The French know they’re up against it and finally yesterday key man Morgan Parra came out and said it — it’s France against the world.
Parra and his teammates know they’ve been written off in every quarter — from fans, media and bookies to just about every expert in world rugby.
The mantra remains the same: France have no chance, the All Blacks are world champions before a ball has been kicked in anger.
The French have upset these odds before, but after losing to the All Blacks 37-17 in their pool game, even the normal dangerous French flair seems to be dead and buried with the team’s chances ahead of Sunday’s Rugby World Cup final.
Parra and his fellow players are drawing strength from this, using the siege mentality to try and get themselves up to upset the odds and ruin a nation’s dreams.
“For several weeks now it has been us against the world,” Parra said. “We felt after beating England we might have some more support. We felt after beating Wales we might have some more support, but yet again, it is us against the world.
“So . . . we are trying to keep ourselves cocooned in this bubble. Some people are saying we don’t deserve to be where we are.
“We play on the pitch and we try to give the best possible image of French rugby and when we read the criticism in the Press, we don’t want to read it, but criticism from our supporters saying we do not deserve to be here or certain English or Welsh players saying the same thing, that hurts but it brings us together.”
Parra also dismissed coach Marc Lievremont’s comments that his players were “spoilt brats” for ignoring a curfew imposed after their win over Wales in the semifinal.
“That took place after the (semifinal) game and maybe he was just annoyed. For certain players the World Cup has been quite difficult and maybe they needed to go out. The whole group did not go out and I am not sure why he called us all ‘spoilt brats’. But we have spoken about it and that is the end of it.”
The halfback may be more accustomed to a scrumhalf role, but after his move to flyhalf has started to come into its own after initially struggling in the game.
“I never thought I would be playing in the final at No 10. It is a dream of mine and I am trying to make the most of it and I am going to try to enjoy it the best I can, be that on the pitch or off the pitch.”