France building nicely towards Women's Rugby World Cup

International Rugby Board     08 Mar 2014     International Rugby Board

Agricole, who turns 34 next week, has amassed 70 caps in her 11 years with the national team but has only graced the World Cup stage once, four years ago in England when France finished fourth after a final day loss to Australia.

It is the semi-final loss to New Zealand, though, that lingers in the memory for Agricole.

“Playing against the All Blacks [New Zealand] was a first,” she told Total Rugby. “It is a mitigated memory because we got to meet an exceptional nation where, as far as I am concerned, rugby was born – that’s just me, I know it was born in England – with their way of playing, their availability on the pitch, their culture and everything that comes with it.

“For me there was this exceptional match against New Zealand. After that there was the defeat against Australia which really was a big blow for me because we could have reached third place.”

That was the first World Cup for which France had a physical trainer working with them and Agricole believes her side will be bettered prepared from a mental perspective when the seventh edition kicks off in Paris on 1 August.

“I think mentally it should be better than four years ago and we will need to insist on a more mental approach in order to make this World Cup the best one. Any why not go to the end, with a title, that would be great.”

France have certainly been the team to watch in World Cup year with three wins from three in the Women’s Six Nations, including an impressive opening 18-6 victory over England before a crowd of nearly 10,000 in Grenoble.

Italy (29-0) and Wales (27-0) have been unable to stop the French juggernaut bidding to secure a first Six Nations title since 2006 and Agricole and her teammates travel to Scotland this weekend to face a nation they crushed 76-0 in 2013.

Scotland have conceded 167 points and scored just five in their three matches so France will expect to head into their final match against Ireland in Pau next Friday with a Grand Slam within touching distance. Not that Agricole is taking anything for granted.

“We mustn’t cut corners. The first stage will be the Six Nations Championship,” she insisted.

“We made promises to ourselves after our victory against England and I know our group will stick to them and that we will work towards them. Then when the Championship is out of the way we will be able to concentrate on the World Cup and I hope we will succeed, I don’t see why we wouldn’t.

“It’s an unusual group [this French squad], with no individuality. It’s a collective and that makes its strength and it is two or three players that will make a difference, as we experienced against the English.

“It’s a collective that likes working together, thinking about the game, and I think this is the essential thing. A group’s strength is this association of individuals and I think it will work this year. It has to anyway.”