France show positive World Cup signs

19th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 18, 2007 (AFP) - France should have the potential to go all the way in the upcoming World Cup, according to press reactions to an all-round improved performance which helped beat England 22-9 in Marseille on Saturday.

PARIS, Aug 18, 2007 (AFP) - France should have the potential to go all the way in the upcoming World Cup, according to press reactions to an all-round improved performance which helped beat England 22-9 in Marseille on Saturday.

For respected sports daily L'Equipe, France's second victory over England inside two weeks was "even more probing" than their 21-15 defeat of the defending World Cup champions at Twickenham last week.
 
"The winning scoreline over the English is hardly any wider, but in substance is a lot more probing," said one sub headline, adding that France even had the freedom in the match to "work on some of their weak points."
 
"A major step forward," ran the headline in Le Journal du Dimanche, noting that the hosts were a "lot more convincing" than on their outing in England last weekend.

The killer blow came when outstanding France centre Yannick Jauzion crashed over for a try early in the second-half while England lock Simon Shaw was in the sin-bin, allied with 14 points from the boot of Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

The French press in general applauded a more solid all-round performance from the tournament hosts following France's pitiful performances in the scrum during their victory over Brian Ashton's world champions last week, which had given their coach Bernard Laporte plenty of food for thought.
 
On Saturday, the French scrum, and notably their front row, outshone their opponents.

"Tonight we had a powerful scrum which put the English under pressure," said Laporte.

"That's a positive point. It was vital to win this game because to launch the World Cup in France we couldn't lose. I'm satisfied with the performance."

The editorial of L'Equipe agreed, but equally highlighted another rock solid performance from the France defence which had been one of their few strong points at Twickenham.

"Defensively, Les Bleus once more showed they were easily up to the task.

Physically, even in the one-on-one tackles, they outshone the English, who four years ago had raised the bar and set the standard for the rest," said the editorial.

France's captain, hooker Raphael Ibanez, believes their defensive performance should be built upon.

"Our defence should be something for which we are feared," he said. "Compared to before, we've become a lot more disciplined."

France open the World Cup against Argentina on September 7 at the Stade de France in Paris, and follow up with matches against Namibia, Ireland and Georgia in Pool D.

The hosts will be expected to at least make the last four of the competition, and it is in those stages that their true stength in depth will be put to the test.

And for L'Equipe, the latest victory over England should be held aloft - but not be construed as a too positive a sign.

 "Let's not get carried away. We already know that this England team has been woeful on their travels: they've lost 15 of their past 16 away matches."

AFP

Subject: French news

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