Dusautoir lifts lid on France's World Cup campaign
July 18, 2012
France's Thierry Dusautoir capped a fine Rugby World Cup with the IRB Player of the Year award © PA Photos
France captain Thierry Dusautoir has recalled what he perceived as a lack of respect for his side in the build up to last year's Rugby World Cup final showdown with the All Blacks.
Tournament hosts New Zealand claimed the sport's biggest prize with a narrow 8-7 victory over a battling French side riled by "disparaging" reports in the build-up to the game.
France had appeared to be on the brink of imploding earlier in the tournament following defeats to New Zealand and Tonga and reports of in-fighting but they rallied in the face of growing belief that the All Blacks were destined to win the World Cup for the first time since 1987.
"We didn't know what the New Zealand players thought about us but around them we certainly weren't respected," Dusautoir told Total Rugby who capped a superb tournament with the IRB Player of the Year award.
Dusautoir admitted the All Blacks were a class apart for most of the World Cup but his side were not about to concede defeat. "Our strategy in that match was to resist as long as possible. Having seen the way we were playing throughout the tournament we were aware that we were not at the same level as the All Blacks. That was pretty obvious. But by this time we were sure we were mentally prepared and we were ready to make the most of the opportunity."
The 30-year-old believes France's uncomplicated game plan surprised the All Blacks and almost led to the biggest upset in World Cup Final history. "During the match we played well but we would have liked to have scored a drop goal on top of the great defence we produced. But we played an uncomplicated game and that is ultimately how we managed to surprise them so much."
Dusautoir also talked about the New Zealand media coverage and one headline in particular that appeared to get lost in translation. "It was a memorable time. We were under huge pressure. In the week before the final there were many disparaging newspaper articles written about us.
"Even though most of the team was not bilingual we understood some of the words, some of the play on words. I remember that after the semi-final there was a picture in the Herald where it was written '80 minutes before laughing'. That annoyed us."
The New Zealand Herald reports that the headlines in question was run before the All Blacks' semi-final with Australia and featured an image of Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Dagg enjoying a laugh during the training.
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