Rugby: Pre-World Cup mission accomplished

20th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 19, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte declared himself satisfied on Sunday that the two World Cup warm-up victories over England had seen his ambitions matched in terms of preparation.

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 19, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte declared himself satisfied on Sunday that the two World Cup warm-up victories over England had seen his ambitions matched in terms of preparation.

The soon-to-be sports minister said in the aftermath of a convincing 22-9 win here over the world champions that the two targets of playing as many players as possible and getting them up to the pace of the Test matches had been achieved.

"Above all we wanted to see the players perform," said Laporte, who guided France to the 2003 World Cup semi-finals where they lost to England.

"It is for that reason that we rotated the squad.

"That has helped us and given us the clues as to what team will begin the World Cup match against Argentina (September 7 at the Stade de France).

"At the outset we had two targets. First to really train hard and then to step up the players to maximum pace.

"After these two first matches we have seen the maximum amount of players and we have got them up to speed."

Laporte, who made his name as a coach at Stade Francais before taking over the national role after the 1999 World Cup, said he was delighted with the make-up of the squad compared to the one in 2003.

"It is true that in 2003 there was a difference in quality between the players.
 
"This time round there is the advantage of them being on the same level and therefore competing against each other for a place in the team.

"But we know we have a top class squad of 30 players, with four wingers of the same level, and a back row which is really competing for places.

"It is the same thing in the second row. There is real competition and that is a good thing to have internal competition. It is something one should encourage."

France have yet to win the World Cup - they have reached the 1987 and 1999 finals only to lose to New Zealand and Australia respectively - and face a tough pool this time around with Triple Crown winners Ireland and dark horses Argentina competing for the all important top two places to make the last eight.

AFP

Subject: French news

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