Boks tackle France
PARIS. — France face a tricky assignment when they get their end-ofyear Test rugby campaign underway against South Africa at the Stade de France today.
Despite playing on their home turf, Les Bleus head into this fixture as the underdogs as they have lost their last six encounters against the Springboks with four of those defeats coming in the past 18 months.
Adding to that, the French have delivered a mixed bag of results in 2018 although there have been some positive signs under the guidance of head coach Jacques Brunel, who took charge of the team at the start of the year.
They only won two matches in this year’s Six Nations - against England and Italy - but ran Ireland, Scotland and Wales close. However, they battled in their three-Test series against New Zealand in June and eventually lost all three of those matches.
With just two triumphs from eight Tests so far this year, France back-row Arthur Iturria highlighted the importance of securing a victory against the Boks. “We have to win,” he said. “We have very good players and a good system. If we bring all the ingredients together at the same time I don’t see why we cannot rival the best teams in the world.
I hope that will be the case on Saturday evening.”
Meanwhile, the Springboks are also under pressure and can ill afford another loss after suffering a narrow defeat to England last weekend in the opening match of their four-Test tour.
There was plenty of controversy in the aftermath of that match when referee Angus Gardner failed to penalise England fly-half Owen Farrell for what looked like an illegal tackle on Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen within goalkicking range.
Although that penalty would have secured a win for South Africa, they should have beaten England comfortably as they had the bulk of the possession and territory.
The Springboks will be determined to improve on that showing and their coach, Rassie Erasmus, is aware that his side have to improve their finishing against Les Bleus.
Erasmus described France as a dangerous side and said they will provide the Springboks with formidable opposition today.
“The French are very physical and skilful, and we will have to be good on defence and also be disciplined,” said Erasmus.
“The conditions here in the northern hemisphere demand a different approach and while we created a lot of opportunities last week we have to better with our execution.” — AFP.