'Impotent' France look for lift

France were branded “impotent” after crashing to the second heaviest defeat in their history against New Zealand, and coach Bernard Laporte admitted it was back to the drawing board in a bid to salvage some face in the rematch in Paris on Saturday.

“We were completely impotent. We weren’t able to react in any way and we feel very inferior,” was Laporte’s blunt assessment of his team’s performance in the seven-try 47-3 thrashing.

The result, fired by an inspired, almost flawless New Zealand performance in both defence and attack, left the France team in a sorry state that saw them loudly jeered and whistled off the pitch at full-time.

Not the best reception for a national team whose country is to host next year’s World Cup. Laporte was humble enough to admit that the better side had won, and at a stretch.

“There is a huge gap between us and them.
We have to work hard and be more disciplined come Saturday. We will try to become true rivals. It’s true we thought we’d be more competitive than that,” said the coach.

“The French players have worked well but the All Blacks are stronger. They run 100m in 10 seconds, us in 12 seconds. They are superior athletically and are quick with the ball.

“But we also made life very easy for them and didn’t get into the game enough ourselves,” he added.

“They have dominated the entire international scene and we’ll have to do something next Saturday.”

“They are much better than we are, but we facilitated their task in the first-half.”

The first try, for which winger winger Sitiveni Sivivatu side-stepped through two woeful tackles by opposite number Aurelien Rougerie and openside Julien Bonnaire, was “terrible”, said Laporte.

“Then we went down a man [when captain Fabien Pelous was yellow-carded] and then we conceded two penalties [that Dan Carter converted].”

That handed New Zealand a 23-3 half-time lead and the writing was on the wall shortly after the second-half resumed with another try through centre Conrad Smith.

The disappointing aspect of France’s performance was their leaden-footed and predictable approach to the game.

Their tactics in the opening period seemed to rely almost solely on stand-in outside-half Damien Traille sending up speculative up-and-unders—something that panned out in a spectacularly unsuccessful fashion.

Traille admitted that the outing at Lyon’s Stade Gerland had been “difficult”.

“We knew that it would be a tough test. We conceded 47 points with a feeling of impotence,” said the Biarritz player.

“There’s a week before we face them again so we have to get back to work quickly.”

Second-row Pascal Pape summed up the general dejection of his teammates, only five of whom played in the last game against New Zealand, which France lost 45-6 in November 2004 in Paris.

“It’s the worst scenario we could have imagined,” said the Castres lock. “I have the feeling of regressing two years.

“We were outplayed in contact situations and in the rucks. It was there where we predicted taking them out, but it was them who took us out. But we have a second chance. We can’t miss out on it.” - Sapa-AFP

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