France slammed for weak team to play NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

France slammed for weak team to play NZ

By Allan Kelly 21/09/2011 04:59:03 PM Comments (0)

Rugby writers in New Zealand have criticised France, accusing officials of sending out an understrength team to take on the All Blacks this weekend, while pool rivals Japan were hit by another injury blow.

The French team, named on Tuesday to take on the tournament favourites in their Eden Park citadel, was an "insult" and a "farce" some claimed.

Behind the move was seen to be French manoeuvring to make sure they lose the game and thus ensure an easier route through the knockout stages.

"It is an insult to the 60,000 who have bought tickets expecting a contest between teams at full strength," fumed rugby journalist Peter Bills, in a column in the New Zealand Herald.

"France have devalued the most eagerly awaited World Cup game for four years and blown an enormous raspberry at the IRB (International Rugby Board)," wrote Bills.

"France have made so many bizarre selections for this weekend that the conspiracy theory is the only logical explanation," he added.

The match is loaded with historical significance after France shocked the All Blacks in the quarter-finals four years ago, reviving memories of their famous 1999 semi when Les Bleus came storming back from behind to win 43-31.

French coach Marc Lievremont named halfback Morgan Parra at five-eighth, left usual No.8 Inamol Harinordoquy on the bench, while giving Dimitri Szarzewski his first start of the competition at hooker.

The French camp have hotly denied any suggestions that they are sending out an understrength team and insist they are bent on once again defeating the All Blacks.

The top team in Pool A will face likely knockout games against Argentina and either South Africa or Australia to reach the final, while the runner-up looks set to play England and then Ireland or Wales.

The All Blacks meanwhile returned to Auckland to complete their preparations for the group stages blockbuster after a four days stay in Christchurch where they consoled victims of February's killer earthquake.

England hero Jonny Wilkinson meanwhile warned his team-mates that time was running out for them to eliminate the errors that are marring their World Cup campaign.

Bidding to appear in a third successive World Cup final, England may have won their opening Pool B matches, against Argentina and Georgia, but both fixtures have seen them concede numerous penalties.

Wilkinson is best known for the extra-time drop-goal that enabled then England captain Johnson to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy after a thrilling 2003 World Cup final against Australia in Sydney.

"Mistakes in a World Cup are going to cost you," Wilkinson said.

"They could have cost us very badly in the first half against Georgia.

"We just can't afford to do it. Sooner or later it will be something we can't come back from."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news