Rugby World Cup: France are flair game

PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 September 2015

France captain Thierry Dusautoir (centre) with his team-mates at their welcome ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College, London (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA).

France captain Thierry Dusautoir (centre) with his team-mates at their welcome ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College, London (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA).

PA/Press Association Images

East London centre backs fellow countrymen

France have always been a nation able to beat any other side ‘on their day’ and East London centre Fabrice Eizlini believes that premise still holds true in 2015.

Beaten finalists at three World Cups, including four years ago, their form has not been great, with successive fourth-place finishes in the Six Nations.

But a warm-up win over England in Paris last month has restored some belief among supporters of ‘Les Bleus’ and Eizlini said: “Of course France can win the tournament. I have to say that because I’m French, but realistically there are some very strong teams.

“We have a good team. You saw that when we beat England in Paris, but I’m a bit disappointed that under coach Philippe Saint-Andre we have sacrificed some of our individual flair in favour of a stronger team ethic – perhaps a bit too much like England.”

Phillipe Saint-Andre is set to be replaced by Guy Noves, head coach of Toulouse, after the tournament, but Clermont centre Wesley Fofana offers plenty of brains alongside the brawn of usual partner Mathieu Bastareaud.

And grizzled captain Thierry Dusautoir will be dangerous in the forwards battle, despite a recent knee injury.

Eizlini added: “In the past we were exciting to watch with players who were prepared to think outside the box and run and pass from everywhere, but that’s changed recently.

“Personally I’d prefer to see us win by playing good rugby and scoring tries rather than kicking penalties.

“But we do have some very good players – captain Thierry Dusautoir in the forwards and Wesley Fofana and Yoann Huget in the backs. On our day we can beat everyone and if Frederic Michalak starts at fly-half we have as good a chance as anyone.”

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