France better prepared for World Cup than predecessors

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Midi Olympique, the French rugby newspaper, ushered in 2023 by saying October 28 is the day France must celebrate the most significant day in its rugby history.

"Everyone is tired of waiting. France is the last world superpower to have never won the World Cup.

"But, it has been offered the opportunity to finally win, on its own soil," it said.

France did have a chance in 2007 after beating the All Blacks in Cardiff in their quarterfinal, but they could not beat England in their Paris semifinal and then lost to Argentina, for the second time in the tournament, to not even claim bronze.

Having gone into that tournament as a favourite with the knowledge it was now or never, Antoine Dupont's 2023 side will be under even more pressure to succeed.

"Our supporters are only waiting for one thing: that we finally lift this World Cup."

Dupont believes his side is better prepared than those players of 2007 to handle the pressure.

"Of course, there is pressure, but it is a source of motivation for us.

"It's a mix of emotions that we have to control.

"This World Cup, we all want to play in and win it, like our competitors.

"But, until then, we have many deadlines to continue to toughen up and approach this competition with maximum confidence, experience and calm."

Dupont said his generation of players has experienced pressures during their careers, many of them having been involved in winning consecutive world Under-20s titles. But he acknowledged that didn't compare to the pressure of expectation for a World Cup.

They had developed self-confidence and a methodology for handling expectations as their game grew.

"We know how difficult it is. No team from France has succeeded so far, and only New Zealand (1987 and 2011) and South Africa (1995) have won on their own soil in nine World Cups.

"I remember that in 2003, the Blues were among the favourites and lost in the semifinals. However, there are other times when they weren't expected, and they made it to the final, where they could, or should, have won.

"Predictions rarely come true at World Cups. The only thing we can do is take the maximum of our chances by preparing as well as possible."

Coach Fabien Galthié said, "We try to live fully in the present. Each game offers us experiences to which we must respond, helping prepare us for the final deadline."

His side has won the 10th French grand slam and 13 consecutive Tests. They have beaten all their main rivals.


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