Rugby World Cup France 2007

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Monday, August 27, 2007

France proved to be a serious candidate

France proved that the power that helped them win the Six Nations is even bigger, with a 34-7 warm-up win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium here on Sunday to follow two wins over defending world champions England.

Indeed, France's only concern was conceding a first try in those three matches when James Hook scored in the first half.

"It's very good for the confidence just ahead of the World Cup," said centre David Skrela who seized his opportunity in the absence of the injured David Marty in a team showing 11 changes from the side that defeated England 22-9 last week.

"I think that we showed a lot of desire and determination and the fact that we scored four tries is even more of a positive. We also put into action everything we have worked on in training."

Hooker Dimitri Szarzewski believes that France are also reaching their physical peak just at the right time ahead of the marathon World Cup which will be played out on home ground.

"We said that it was necessary to increase our level and I believe we did that against Wales." Serge Betsen, who was man of the match in Cardiff, said that France sent out a message to their World Cup rivals that even when they make wholesale changes, they are still a formidable force.

"Despite the changes, we kept our rhythm and our shape," admitted Betsen.

Scrum-half Pierre Mignoni praised his team's free-scoring style but admitted that the eventual World Cup winners will be the squad who defend with strength as well as attack with style.

"Our defence is strong," said Mignoni, who scored one of his side's tries on Sunday. "But we can improve and you need to have the best defence if you are to go far."

And Laporte, hoping to be the coach of a first ever World Cup-winning French side, did his best to keep talk of a triumph on home soil in check.

Is good to mention that France raced into an early 17-0 lead which all but put the result beyond doubt.

Their first try featured a superb handling move which led to a score for lock Jerome Thion and Mignoni also got on the scoresheet following Imanol Harinordoquy's charge down of Dwayne Peel's kick.

Wales scored a try, on the stroke of half-time, through fly-half James Hook but were kept pointless in the second half where Aurelien Rougerie and replacement hooker Sebastien Bruno both crossed the Welsh line.

France fly-half Lionel Beauxis kicked 12 points with substitute Jean-Baptiste Elissalde adding the extras for Bruno's last minute score.

"What is re-assuring is that despite the changes, the athletes played with the same spirit. But to win the World Cup we need to do it again from September 7 (when France play their opening match against Argentina)," aassured Laporte.

"It was tough out there but our defence was excellent and there was a real desire to move the ball, especially in the second 20 minutes of the first-half" he concluded.