French Rugby
Dusautoir backs France for World Cup
ESPNscrum Staff
August 12, 2011
France's captain Thierry Dusautoir celebrates in training, France training session, Marcoussis, France, July 5, 2011
Dusautoir will captain France against Ireland on Saturday © Getty Images

France captain Thierry Dusautoir has backed his side to ruffle a few feathers and perhaps even walk away with the William Webb Ellis cup ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

The All Blacks, the Rugby World Cup hosts and favourites, will be quaking in their boots as Les Bleus appear focused and keen to better their record as beaten finalists in 1987 and 1999. In 2007, France dumped New Zealand, the overwhelming tournament favourites, out of the World Cup and left a nation stunned.

Four years on, France alone cannot end the All Blacks' chances, but they could create a significant dent in home hopes in the Pool A meeting in Auckland on September 24. Les Bleus travel to the Land of the Long White Cloud in bullish mood.

Captain Dusautoir said: "We are going there to get stuck into this competition, not to go sight-seeing. If we give the best of ourselves from beginning to end, we can seriously think about that title of world champion.

"This is the goal."

Dusautoir, known as the Dark Destroyer, is a name which will haunt New Zealanders following his performance at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 6, 2007. The Toulouse flanker made a phenomenal 38 tackles that day and scored a second-half try as the All Blacks ended up bruised and beaten.

France also defeated New Zealand in Dunedin in June 2009 in a drawn Test series. Dusautoir is keen to repeat the result from Carisbrook next month and give his side belief for the remainder of the tournament.

He added: "We beat New Zealand two years ago - this means that it is possible and that we can do it. When you start the competition, you have to remember that.

"We have worked for four years to play in this competition. And it's true that there is something a little bit extra special about playing it in New Zealand. Anyone who can turn up and win in New Zealand will truly go down in history."

Tonga, Japan and Canada provide the other opposition in the first round and victory over the All Blacks would likely seal a position atop Pool A. That would ease France's path to the final - their next possible meeting with the hosts - and set up a likely quarter-final against Scotland or Argentina, unless either of those sides can beat England in Pool B.

Imperative to France's performances will be individuals forming a cohesive unit, something the football team were unable to do in South Africa last summer. Despite a challenging four years, which included the Grand Slam in 2010, but also numerous troubles and speculation over the future of head coach Marc Lievremont, France appear to be in good fettle heading to the tournament.

France's preparations have not been entirely smooth, though, with Yoann Huget expelled from the squad for failing to comply with anti-doping regulations. The Bayonne winger failed to inform the French Ant-Doping Agency (AFLD) of his whereabouts in order to comply with testing procedures on three occasions - an offence which carries the same penalty as a positive test - and now faces disciplinary action.

Despite that setback, Lievremont is in optimistic mood. He said: "We are working towards a goal of having a squad packed with quality. I am satisfied with the way training has been going - actually it is above my expectations.

"Everything is going very well for the moment. What is interesting, is that the players have stuck to everything that we have proposed, even when we have urged them to increase the physical work despite their being a certain weariness and general fatigue. But they have already accrued the benefits."

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