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RWC Semi Final-1: We want what England has, say France
« on: October 13, 2007, 06:54:22 PM »

RWC: We want what England has, say France

Saturday October 13, 2007
PARIS - France's motivation when they come to play England in the World Cup semi-final here on Saturday is simple: they want to wrest the William Webb Ellis trophy away from the defending champions.

"England have what we don't have," said flanker Serge Betsen. "Our goal is go and get that, starting with a win in the semi-final."

The last time France met England in a World Cup semi-final, it was four years ago and the French lost 24-7, but Betsen said the team had changed since that day in Australia.

"The key difference between now and four years ago is maybe the collective wish of our team.

"We have evolved as players and we have learnt our lessons. We now all want to go out there and claim World Cup glory."

Scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde said the match at the Stade de France would be a titanic battle.

"England are the reigning champions. They've had a difficult preparation for the tournament with a lot of injuries.

"But they've settled on a good team now, full of experience and wise heads," he said.

"Against Australia, they were very solid up front, showed lots of intelligence in the backs and put in a great defensive performance.

"It'll be a very tough match and the toughest since the start for us," when France went down 17-12 to Argentina, who play in the other semi-final on Sunday against South Africa, also in Paris.

Elissalde said the match-up between France and old foes England was more than just a little reminiscent of the yearly battles in the Six Nations, European rugby's showpiece tournament.

"The game will have the same characteristics as a Grand Slam decider in the Six Nations," the proven goalkicker said.

"We must let nothing go. We have to eliminate any errors in our game and follow our gameplan.

"We'll take what we did last week (during France's shock 20-18 win over New Zealand) and hope to replicate it on Saturday."

He said he hoped the backline received "more ball to play, but the battle upfront remains the pivotal area of the game".

Prop Olivier Milloud said England's front-five would pose slightly different problems from those of the All Blacks.

"Their forwards are similar but maybe England are more powerful but less mobile, although, they are just as dangerous, because everything they do, they put the pressure on.

"They are very good in the rucks and mauls. The All Blacks are very dangerous as individuals, but England are more dangerous collectively."

England come into the last-four showdown after beating Australia 12-10 in their quarter-final.

"The win against Australia will give them confidence. They won the battle of the forwards against Australia," Milloud said in a reference to England's destruction of the Wallaby front-row.

"We will concentrate really hard on the ball when we have it and on destabilising the English when they have the ball."


Agence France Presse


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