France is ready for semifinal

2011-10-15 07:51

France captain Thierry Dusautoir says his team’s semifinal against Wales today will be very different from their 2007 last-four defeat by England.

Dusautoir admitted that four years ago, the French team probably lost some focus after beating New Zealand in the quarterfinals. But the back row was adamant there would be no slackening off this time.

“In 2007 we had beaten the best team in the world, the All Blacks, who had been undefeated in years and who were the big favourites,” Dusautoir said.

“This time we have beaten England, so it’s a little different.”

Dusautoir said the team’s attitude this week had been very positive but warned that following up a good match was often difficult for the French.

“You can never tell whether after a good performance we will deliver another good one,” he said. “This is the main difficulty.”

True barometer
Dusautoir believes that while experience of playing in the final four may be helpful, the true barometer is the level of play shown by each team.

“In my opinion Wales are better,” he said. “They finished first in the toughest pool of this Rugby World Cup. They lost to South Africa by just one point and they eliminated Ireland. In these games they have set good standards, while we haven’t.”

In his opinion of his opposing captain, Sam Warburton, Dusautoir was full of praise. “He is a great player and has imposed himself to the international level in this tournament.

“He has been described as the Welsh (Heinrich) Brüssow or the Welsh (David ) Pocock. He is very dangerous.”

Meanwhile, France coach Marc Lièvremont revealed that Morgan Parra will do the kicking in the semifinal, replacing the dead-legged Dimitri Yachvili (injured against England), who will take the field at scrum half.

Full confidence
Jean Marc Doussain will make his France debut at scrum half if Yachvili is forced to retire.

“He hasn’t played but I have full confidence in him (Doussain). He hasn’t earned his spot on the team by chance,” Lièvremont says.

Before the England quarterfinal last week, Lièvremont confronted his players about the possibility of failure after an indifferent showing in their Pool A matches, but he says he has calmed down for the semifinal.

“This week I have not motivated them with the same elements (shame, frustration) as last week,” he says.

“We tried to make them take responsibility, both in terms of the game and of the mental preparation. A good match against England is not enough to satisfy us.” 

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