PARIS : Former France captain Thierry Dusautoir fears the hosts’ bid for a first world title could be damaged by South Africa even if Les Bleus beat the world champions in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
The French might have faced Ireland or the Springboks at Stade de France in the last eight and the former flanker thinks the top-ranked Irish would have been preferable given the physicality of the South Africans.
“I think that France have all the weapons to win against South Africa,” the 41-year-old, who captained France in their 2011 World Cup final loss to New Zealand, told Reuters.
“Maybe I would have preferred Ireland, not because they are a weaker team, but because it would be less physical than playing South Africa.
“If we win this game, we’d still have two more games to play to be able to be champions. So it’s going to be hard and maybe there will be a high cost.”
The 2011 World Player of the Year was speaking alongside New Zealand great Richie McCaw at the launch of a new documentary, Rivals Les Bleus, featuring both players on the NZR+ streaming platform.
Dusautoir said he thought the tournament had been excellent so far and even admitted being a little surprised by the enthusiasm with which the French public had embraced it.
“I know the French people had high expectations of the team because they are good and have been winning,” he said.
“But I’ve never seen this energy at the Stade de France, people just wanting to be together to enjoy the moment. This is what rugby is, no?”
Dusautoir said the impact of France finally winning a World Cup after losing the finals in 1987 and 1999 as well as 2011 could be considerable as rugby jostles for young talent with other codes.
“You can already feel the impact of the performance of the French team, we have more kids coming to rugby,” he said.
“You already have big exposure with players like Antoine Dupont and it would be great because we’ve waited so long, we’ve lost the three finals.
“We will never beat soccer but with a world title maybe we’d get even more kids coming to play rugby.”