Three reasons why France can beat the All Blacks...
Ahead of Sunday’s World Cup Final, here’s why Les Bleus can surprise New Zealand and win the Webb Ellis.

Imanol Harinordoquy: key man. Barry Aldworth/Sports Inc/Press Association Images

Attack attack attack

IF FRANCE GO into the match as they did against the English in the quarter-finals, they will let the All Blacks know early that they have a game on their hands. Marc Lievremont’s side were imperious in that first half, with tries from Clerc and Medard backed up by the boot of Yachvili.

Too often in this tournament their forward play has been one dimensional – not least in the defeat to Tonga and the limp capitulation to Sunday’s opponents in the pool stages – but if they can roar out of the traps and go on the offensive, then Graham Henry will know that he has a game on his hands.

Lievremont is aware of his team’s need to show greater aggression and will hope that his diatribe earlier this week – calling his team a group of ‘spoilt brats’ for their post-Wales celebrations – will instill a more professional, and more cutting, side to the French game. He won’t mind being the bad guy among his players if it wakes them up.

The back row

Thierry Dusautoir has shown how pivotal he is to this French team throughout his 25 caps as captain, but it is his team-mates Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy who have really shone in the last two games.

Harinordoquy was imperious in unsettling the English and then Bonnaire’s performance proved one of the few things to admire in the semi-final.

“They have been outstanding,” All Black Kieran Read admits of the French trio.

“Defensively they have been really strong and they also have a lot of options in their lineout with Bonnaire and Harinordoquy. Their strength is their dominant tackles so we have to be aware of that.”

The 1999 factor

It may be 12 years since France stunned the All Blacks but the memory has not faded in the Southern Hemisphere.

As with the current group, New Zealand went into the match with the backing of every bookmaker under the sun. When they took a 24-10 lead the match seemed to be going to type but France had other ideas.

Their 43-31 victory – which included a stunning try from Christophe Dominici – remains one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. Lievremont, playing that day, will know that the unlikely can happen.

Absent friends: here’s our alternative Rugby Player of the Year nominations

Poll: Has the Rugby World Cup lived up to expectations?

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.