Troubled French go into hiding
September 29, 1999
The French closed their training session to the public and the media on Wednesday as they came under increasing pressure ahead of Saturday's game against Canada.
"Everybody must understand that the players are here to win the match on Saturday. They did not come to the World Cup to answer questions or sign autographs," French manager Jo Maso said.
The decision is the result of an incident on Tuesday when a group of spectators made sarcastic comments toward the players during the session. "The comments were useless and it got on the guys' nerves which I can understand. We are three days from the match and they don't need to be bashed," said Maso.
"They need to be given a break and to have time to focus on the coming match. We don't have anything against anybody but we must work in a quiet atmosphere."
The squad is facing pressure from the French rugby public after a torrid year that has seen them finish bottom of the Five Nations and lose to Tonga, New Zealand and Wales in the last 3 months.
"This match came up at the wrong time. We were not ready for it," French coach Jean-Claude Skrela said. "But I think all the work we have accomplished during the last six weeks is going to pay off.''
The French side will be named on Thursday, with second row Olivier Brouzet unlikely to be considered, as he continues to suffer back problems.