French me­dia deride lat­est con­test

Business Day - - SPORTS DAY - Liam Del Carme Paris /TimesLive

You do not need much to stir the emo­tions here.

There is a minirev­o­lu­tion around ev­ery corner.

France’s rugby bosses have in­voked the ire of their con­stituents by hav­ing a starstud­ded French XV play the New Zealand tourists‚ three days af­ter their na­tional team played the All Blacks and four days be­fore they are to en­gage SA.

Spring­bok rugby may not be in the rud­est health at the mo­ment, but by in­clud­ing play­ers such as gi­ant lock Yoann Maestri‚ cre­ative fly­half Fran­cois Trinh-Duc‚ South African-born full­back Scott Sped­ding‚ Hugo Bon­neval‚ Ro­main Tau­fifenua‚ as well as fly­half Jules Plis­son, who is on the bench‚ the French have their re­sources spread thin.

The lo­cal me­dia has de­rided the con­test as noth­ing more than an ex­hi­bi­tion throw-around for which Test caps will not be handed out.

It is un­likely France coach Guy Noves will in­clude any of the play­ers who played on Tues­day night in his team to face the Boks on Satur­day.

The ex­pe­ri­enced Maestri‚ who has 59 caps‚ did not add to his col­lec­tion on Tues­day and it is un­likely he will on Satur­day.

He seems to be at odds with his for­mer club coach but was quick to douse the spec­u­la­tion.

Maestri‚ who will break his long as­so­ci­a­tion with Toulouse to join La Rochelle next sea­son‚ made it clear that he was not an­noyed to be se­lected for what amounts to a France B side.

He added that the French team did not be­long to any­body.

Trinh-Duc, who has 61 caps and came on for just five min­utes in France’s 38-18 loss to the All Blacks, also seems to op­er­ate on the coach’s pe­riph­er­als.

Noves has al­ready an­nounced an en­forced change to his squad with prop Se­bastien Taofifenua re­plac­ing the in­jured Raphael Chaume.

The lat­ter made his de­but against the All Blacks‚ while the for­mer could fol­low him into Test rugby this week­end.

Who­ever the French push into bat­tle on Satur­day‚ the Spring­boks can­not af­ford to take them lightly.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen — not usu­ally this gen­er­ous with praise — paid the Tri­col­ores a huge com­pli­ment last week when he said France was now the best team in the world on off­loads.

Guy Noves

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