England tougher than the All Blacks

9th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2007, CARDIFF (AFP) - France prop Pieter De Villiers believes beating England in the World Cup semi-final could be a tougher proposition than seeing off the All Blacks.

9 October 2007

CARDIFF (AFP) - France prop Pieter De Villiers believes beating England in the World Cup semi-final could be a tougher proposition than seeing off the All Blacks.

France stunned tournament favourites New Zealand 20-18 in the quarter-finals, but De Villiers has warned his teammates over complacency when they take on the defending champions at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

"We had to find something special to beat the All Blacks but that was only a quarter-final," said the 35-year-old veteran of 68 Tests.

"The World Cup isn't finished. Now we have a more difficult semi-final."

De Villiers is one of four survivors from the 1999 French team, along with Raphael Ibanez, Fabien Pelous and Christophe Dominici, which beat New Zealand in the semi-finals with a stunning 43-31 upset.

However, they then limped to a disappointing 35-12 loss to Australia in the final.

De Villiers also insists that France cannot read too much into their 21-15 and 22-9 wins over England in World Cup warm-up matches in August and claims that the English are a much better side now.

"Those games were between two teams who were preparing for the World Cup," said the Stade Français forward.

"England had doubts and problems. Today, all that has changed. They played a great match to beat Australia (12-10 in the quarter-finals) and it showed they believed themselves to be world champions."

France are aware that England may have the advantage when it comes to the forwards battle on Saturday and have bitter memories of their 26-18 defeat at Twickenham in the Six Nations this year where the French pack struggled.

That power was in evidence in Marseille on Saturday with the widely-praised performance of English prop Andrew Sheridan who missed the August meeting.

But De Villiers says France can take heart from their pack's performance against the All Blacks.

"It was a great challenge," said the prop. "We had wanted to face their scrum which, for many years, has been the best in the world.

"We rocked them in the second half and that had a psychological effect on them."

De Villiers has an extra motivation for France to win on Saturday.

A victory would set-up a possible final showdown with South Africa, the country of his birth.

The Springboks tackle Argentina in the other semi-final on Sunday.

AFP

Subject: French news

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