Forget history, Ibanez tells French

10th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

10 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - France skipper Raphael Ibanez believes his team won't become preoccupied with revenge when they clash with old rivals England in Saturday's World Cup semi-finals.

10 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - France skipper Raphael Ibanez believes his team won't become preoccupied with revenge when they clash with old rivals England in Saturday's World Cup semi-finals.

Jonny Wilkinson kicked England to victory in the corresponding match in Australia four years ago, but veteran Ibanez insists that focusing on that demoralising 24-7 loss could derail their hopes of making the final.

*sidebar1*"We can always look at numbers and statistics, matches played four years ago or a few months ago, but are they of particular significance? I don't know," said Ibanez.

"There are players in the squad who are new to the World Cup and we don't want to talk about the past. We prefer they concentrate on the next game.

"I'm convinced that each player in the team will have enough personal motivation to face the English."

Both France and defending champions England have reached the last four despite losing crucial pool games which condemned them to tricky quarter-final assignments.

France lost the opening game of the tournament 17-12 to Argentina while England suffered a record 36-0 defeat to South Africa.

However, they have turned their tournaments around with France dumping the mighty All Blacks out in the quarter-finals while England edged Australia in their last eight clash.

"I'm not surprised that England have got this far," said Ibanez.

"Thay have world class players and they are a very proud team and country. They never give up. They have had their critics. But bravo to them and us.

"We are two northern hemisphere sides who have suffered but we have fought back and knocked out two Tri-Nations teams. We have shown that northern hemisphere rugby is not that bad."

Ibanez plays his club rugby in England with European champions Wasps while Sebastien Chabal and Sebastien Bruno are on Sale's books.

Wasps have six players in the England squad, including skipper Phil Vickery; Sale can boast three.

"I don't know if it's an advantage to have players who play in England. We know them well and they know us by heart."

Ibanez believes that facing England, who they defeated in two pre-tournament warm-up matches but lost to in the Six Nations, could prove to be even more demanding than knocking out the All Blacks.

"The game against New Zealand was just a quarter-final. Now we have a semi-final against the world champions. It's possibly a greater challenge."

AFP

Subject: French news

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