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RWC: France and Argentina want fond farewell
« on: October 18, 2007, 07:16:30 PM »

France and Argentina want fond farewell


End of the road: France captain Raphaël Ibanez will be playing his last world cup match

PARIS, 18 October – France and Argentina both go into the bronze medal match hoping to grab a win to mark the end of two respective eras.

While it is the end of the tournament, the sides will be farewelling a number of players and members of their coaching staff.

For France five players are likely to join head coach Bernard Laporte in international retirement.

Les Bleus stalwarts Fabien Pelous, Raphaël Ibanez, Christophe Dominici, Serge Betsen and Pieter de Villiers are all tipped to be bringing their international careers to an end after the tournament.

Imanol Harinordoquy explained the significance of the match for his team.

"Collectively, everyone wants to finish in style and not like a wet fish. We want to finish with a win because we are playing in France and for the people who have supported us from the beginning, even after the defeat against Argentina," he said.

Christophe Dominici lamented the end of Laporte's reign.

"He's a great man and has done an enormous amount for French rugby which should be appreciated. He has always been a great competitor but he, like me, will never be world champion."

Argentina are in a similar situation as they are bid farewell to many of their long-time stars, in addition to coach Marcelo Loffreda, who is moving on to coach England's Leicester Tigers.

This will be the last world cup game for the Pumas' captain Agustín Pichot, Mario Ledesma Arocena, Omar Hasan Jalil, Gonzalo Longo Elía, Carlos Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and Martín Durand.

One of the Pumas strengths is their strong team spirit, which makes the finality of this match all the harder to contemplate for Loffreda.

"The fact that I have been able to share so many hours with the players, always with the same target. I will leave all this with huge pain and nostalgia but the most important thing is to communicate to the players the importance of the next match," he said.
 
Full back Ignacio Corleto said that the bronze medal was the most important thing to the team right now.

"We are trying not to speak about goodbyes because it is sad and we are not in the right situation to think about that. It will be the end for our group and for the coaches," he said.

"That is why this team deserves a victorious goodbye. We are 45 special guys and we have proved that in this world cup. There were some great moments and no fights. We are all friends."

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