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France thump Australia to prove they are ‘capable’ of winning Grand Final

By Finn Morton
Jordan Sepho of France (L) breaks away to score his sides try in the match against Australia during Madrid Rugby Sevens at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium on May 31, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alberto Gardin/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

When France brought an end to their almost two-decade Cup final drought on the HSBC SVNS Series with a 21-nil win over Great Britain in Log Angeles in early March, it put the rugby sevens world on notice.

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You can put it down to being the ‘Antoine Dupont effect’ if you’d like but in truth, this was a result years in the making. Gone were the days of France being a team that could only push the best of the best to their limit with silverware on the line.

Les Bleus Sevens were worthy champions at Dignity Health Sports Park, and they made sure to cherish the moment. About 24 hours later, some players were still wearing their winner’s medal as they waited to fly out of LAX.

Almost three months have passed and with an overall SVNS Series title on the line in Madrid, France are a team who genuinely believe they can go all the way at the home of European football giants Atletico Madrid.

If there was any doubt that France are a team capable of still accomplishing that feat, then look no further than their 38-5 demolition of Australia. Les Bleus Sevens put on a show as they showed again they can handle the pressure.

“It’s a pretty unique tournament experience so there’s a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, a lot of nerves before starting off,” France’s Aaron Grandidier Nkanang told RugbyPass.

“I think I’m just really proud, firstly, of the team to have responded to that pressure in such a positive way.

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“To put in such a solid all-round performance like that, it brings us a huge amount of confidence going into the next (couple of) days.

“To be completely honest, we’ve had that belief since – I mean I joined in 2022 – and the team’s always had that belief,” he added.

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“Having won that in LA has proved to us and it’s proved to everyone that we are capable of putting it all together in a tournament.

“We’ve got such a deep squad. We’ve got all the tools in the bag to get it done this weekend. We’ve just got to make sure we put all the ingredients together at the right time.”

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With former World Rugby 15s Player of the Year Antoine Dupont watching on as an unselected 13th man for the pool stage match, France shot out of the blocks as Paulin Riva got the party started with a try in the second minute.

Jordan Sepho scored a double, and the trio of Varian Pasquet, Theo Forner and Thibaud Mazzoleni all crossed for one each as France ran up a 38-nil lead.

The Aussies got one back through Hayden Sargeant in the 15th minute but it was obviously too little, far too late.

“It kind of sets the standard for the weekend,” Grandidier Nkanang added.

“We’ll be definitely very determined to keep on building off a performance like that.”

France will take on League winners Argentina and Great Britain to round out their pool stage fixtures in the SVNS Series Grand Final.

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

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Turlough 20 minutes ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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