New Zealand 8-7 France, Rugby World Cup, October 23, 2011
Furious French hit out at Joubert
ESPNscrum Staff
October 23, 2011

France duo Dimitri Szarzewski and Maxime Mermoz have criticised the performance of match referee Craig Joubert after Sunday's Rugby World Cup final defeat by New Zealand in Auckland.

The All Blacks claimed an early unconverted try through prop Tony Woodcock and extended their lead to eight points when replacement fly-half Stephen Donald slotted a penalty early in the second half.

However, France dominated thereafter, dragging themselves to within a point when Francois Trinh-Duc, on as a replacement for the injured Morgan Parra, converted captain Thierry Dusautoir's 47th-minute touchdown.

Les Bleus pressed in the remaining half hour but just not could not force the score which would have won them the game. Szarzewski was in no doubt that Joubert was to blame, accusing the South African official of favouritism towards the hosts.

"[Jerome] Kaino committed a lot of fouls, [Richie] McCaw doing what he wanted and they were not penalised. Unless the fault was really rough, they were not punished," the hooker said. "Mr. Joubert was not brave. It was a World Cup final. I wanted things to be fair. And that was not the case."

Mermoz, meanwhile, claimed that he had been struck by All Blacks scrum-half Piri Weepu and suggested that Joubert had ignored the assault.

"I took a punch from Weepu right in the ear," the centre said. "I couldn't hear anything and I still can't hear well now. And the referee didn't whistle."

Meanwhile, fly-half Parra, who was forced off in the second half, revealed that he had been kneed in the head by All Blacks captain McCaw and remains unsure if the act was deliberate.

"I was bleeding a bit, I took a knock and I was a bit dazed," he said of the knock. "I was trying to get out from under the ruck, I took a knee to the face. It wasn't when [Ma'a] Nonu tackled me but afterwards. Did he [McCaw] mean it? I don't know. I haven't seen the footage. But it wasn't from Nonu."

Parra was devastated by the nature of his side's defeat, believing that they deserved to win the game. However, he insists that he will take enormous pride out of their efforts at Eden Park given that they had been written off by all and sundry going into the game on account of their underwhelming form in the run-up to the final.

"We knew that holding the All Blacks to a few points at half-time, they would only score a minimal amount of points in the match and that everything was possible in the second-half," the Clermont Auvergne ace said.

"It didn't go our way, even though I think we deserved better. It was a difficult, hostile atmosphere to play in, but we were ready. It was a great adventure. It would have been nice to finish with a World Cup title, but it wasn't to be.

"We worked hard for weeks for this, people told us we didn't deserve to be here, but we showed tonight that we certainly did. The positive thing is that we can walk away from this World Cup with our heads held high."

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