Home' The Wellingtonian : October 13th 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, OCTOBER 13, 2011
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French reward long-suffering fans
French smiles: A good day for the beleaguered French rugby fans.
The French are not to be
trusted, especially their
You can go overboard ascribing
traits to certain nationalities.
It's often said Italians play with
grace and flair. But their soccer
team looked dreary in drawing
with the All Whites at last year's
The Germans are described as a
utilitarian race, yet Boris Becker
played tennis with rare colour and
That said, some generalisations
have more than a grain of truth to
them. Brazilians in any sport,
from beach volleyball to soccer,
bring pizzazz and excitement to
Equally, All Black teams are
invariably resolute and unbend-
ing, even if the nature of their
play has changed. In the Colin
Meads-Brian Lochore days of the
1960s, the All Blacks won with
eschewing brilliance for a no-risks
Now, with such a strong Maori
and Polynesian influence, the All
Blacks play with much more
daring. Even so, victory remains
The French turned the Rugby
World Cup upside down over the
weekend with their 19-12 win over
They were awful earlier in the
tournament, losing 37-17 to the
All Blacks and 19-14 to Tonga.
A week after their Tongan
humiliation, they bounced back to
stun unbeaten England. How can
Former English Davis Cup ten-
nis player and coach Mark Cox
once explained to me his theory
about the Anglo-Saxon work
Players from England, Aust-
ralia and New Zealand won't play
well unless they've trained hard,''
said Cox. They have to feel
they've done the right prep-
aration, that they deserve to win.
The French, on the other hand,
are happy if they can get away
with minimal training and still
win. They don't feel that guilt.''
French sportsmen, from middle-
distance runner Michel Jazy to
tennis player Henri Leconte, have
always tended to be erratic.
They'll turn up undertrained
and hope they can get by. Only
before special occasions -- an
Olympic Games or a Grand Slam
tennis tournament -- do they
really put in the hard graft. A
huge defeat never seems to faze
New Zealanders are different.
The All Blacks could not counten-
ance a rugby defeat by Tonga. It
would go against the national
Upsets happen in international
sport, of course. Look at Australia.
The Wallabies lost to Samoa, then
turned around and beat the All
Blacks. But that's not a result of
The French often are not
wounded by a defeat. Their rugby
team has toured New Zealand and
lost massively. In 2007 they were
smashed by 51 points in Welling-
They shrug off such results,
secure in the knowledge that on
the big stage it will be different, as
the All Blacks learned at the 1999
and 2007 World Cups.
Now they've done it again, this
time to England. It's as if they sat
in the dressing room after the
Tonga match, stubbed out their
cigars, took a final swig of cham-
pagne, then said: Now the real
It must be frustrating for
French rugby supporters. All
Black fans would be devastated
having to swallow the sorts of
results the French sometimes turn
in.But it must be exciting, too,
knowing that no matter how bad
the lead-up form is, a big result is
just around the corner.
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