France's first hosting of rugby's World Cup will leave mixed emotions on the home front. The six-week long tournament was superbly organised, the grounds were packed, and there was colour and drama aplenty. But the script that had the French hosts taking on the mighty All Blacks in the final in Paris failed to materialise.
Argentina ended the World Cup the way they had started it, running in five tries to tame France 34-10 in an ill-tempered third-place playoff at the Parc des Princes on Friday.
France and Argentina clash on Friday in a World Cup third place play-off overshadowed by simmering French resentment at their opening night shock defeat to the Pumas five weeks ago. That 17-12 embarrassment threatened to send the hosts' campaign into freefall before they righted their listing ship with a spectacular quarterfinal win over the All Blacks.
Rarely has the term "Le Crunch", often used to describe internationals between England and France, been more appropriate than for Saturday's World Cup semifinal at the Stade de France. The old rivals will meet for the 90th time, knowing that defeat for either side could signal the end of some distinguished rugby careers.
Hosts France showed no mercy to 14-man Namibia on Sunday as they got some vital momentum for Friday's crucial Group D World Cup clash with Ireland, winning 87-10 to post their record score in international rugby. Vincent Clerc ran in three tries, while locks Jerome Nallet and Sebastian Chabal grabbed a brace each.