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Rebellious France far too turbulent to cause a storm by making lighting strike thrice

16 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rebellious France far too turbulent to cause a storm by making lighting strike thrice

Saturday's match-up may bring back memories of famous French upsets, but the two sides have gone in drastically different directions since then

Given France’s limited levels of application in the tournament so far, Phillipe Saint-Andre’s plea for his players to “rebel” in their quarter-final against New Zealand on Saturday is curious. 

Particularly considering that the senior players in Les Bleus’ squad have already reportedly stopped paying any attention to the advice of their beleaguered coach.

And while widespread disharmony certainly did their fortunes no harm in 2011, France will need more than a stubborn recalcitrant streak if they are to prevent a premature end to an underwhelming campaign this weekend.

Four years ago, a squad disaffected by then-coach Marc Lievremont still managed to make it all the way to the final, but not before they were twice taught a lesson by the All Blacks about the values of clear and coherent thinking with defeats in both the pool stages and tournament decider.

New Zealand have won all four of their clashes against France since then and their last eight in total – meaning that the famous upsets that they suffered in 1999 and 2007 are now, at least in rugby terms, nothing but distant memories.

On both of those occasions France were well down at the break before mounting a stirring comeback – and they are priced at 14/1 to achieve something similar on Saturday by being behind at half-time before prevailing by the final whistle.

If they are to stand any chance at all then talismanic captain Thierry Dusautoir must continue to lead his rebellious troops by example.

The flanker has scored against the All Blacks in each of the last two World Cups, and is 11/1 to continue that remarkable record by touching down at any time on Saturday.

They are also dependent on mercurial fly-half Frederic Michalak – who set up the match-winning try in 2007 but has flattered to deceive so far this time around – to produce a performance to get the best out of a stuttering backline.

The dropping of one-dimensional centre Mathieu Bastareaud is certainly a step in the right direction, but how much successful his replacement Alexandre Dumoulin – a 26-year-old with four starts and no tries to his name – can be in beguiling the best team in the world remains to be seen.

Steve Hansen’s side may be yet to dazzle at this tournament, but the clinical efficiency that they have displayed in sweeping aside all before them suggests that any chance of them choking like in previous tournaments looks slim at best.

Even the fact they are being forced to return to the Millennium Stadium – the scene of their most recent World Cup failure – is unlikely to perturb them given that they have won 21 of their last 22 encounters against Six Nations sides at Northern Hemisphere venues.

Indeed, it is a measure of the heights that New Zealand have reached in recent years that only South Africa can better France’s record of two wins in their last 10 games against the All Blacks.

Still, although offering little comfort, such numbers do show that if any team can prevent the Kiwis from becoming the first country to retain the World Cup, it is the exasperatingly-inconsistent French.

Neutrals will certainly be hoping that on Saturday it is statistics and perceived wisdom that Saint-Andre’s men are rebelling against rather than themselves.

New Zealand v France match betting

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