Rugby-France must face All Blacks without fear - Pape

Reuters

Wed, 19 Oct 22:56:00 2011

France must face the All Blacks without fear and produce their best performance of the tournament if they are to have any hope of an upset in Sunday's World Cup final, according to lock Pascal Pape.

The French have stuttered throughout the tournament, losing to New Zealand and Tonga in the pool phase and struggling to beat 14-man Wales in the semi-finals.

They do, however, have a history of handing out memorable beatings to the All Blacks in the World Cup and were the last team to beat the hosts at their Eden Park fortress in 1994.

"We have not had a great tournament but we are in the final," Pape said. "When you play sport, the focus is always on the title.

"This is the World Cup final and if there is any fear we might as well not bother turning up," the 31-year-old added.

"The motivation is extreme. We can't fear this match. We know the French are behind us despite everything."

Pape, who made his international debut in 2004, has been an irregular starter under coach Marc Lievremont but was in the French side that beat the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009.

He also played in the pool match at Eden Park when France were the better side for the first 10 minutes -- before Adam Thomson scored a try and New Zealand eventually ran out easy 37-17 winners.

The All Blacks have improved further since then and unleashed a ferocious onslaught in the semi-finals to overwhelm Australia, one of the few other teams to have beaten them in recent years.

"The bar is very high and, if we do not follow through, there will be problems," Pape added. "It is up to us to do a lot better. We have to play better than the rugby we played against them in the pool stage."

Flanker Julien Bonnaire, who played in that match as well as France's 2007 World Cup upset of the All Blacks, said the hosts boasted a "complete" team and France would need to sustain pressure on them for the full 80 minutes.

"They are all great players, and not just the back row, the team as a whole," the 33-year-old said.

"They are tough in terms of impact and they have solid defence. They have it all and good for them. They will be everywhere on the pitch and we have nothing to lose.

"We will need a perfect match."

The rangy flanker, who will win his 70th cap on Sunday, also said the French must not be intimidated by taking on the All Blacks in front of a partisan crowd of 60,000.

"We should not be afraid of winning," he said. "We have great qualities ourselves. We can't give up at all until the last minute."

(For the sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport))

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