Said it before the tournament started….If France deliver for 80 mins they’re serious contenders
The 32-year-old made the claim after France won 33-9 on Wednesday, a game where they looked as dangerous at times as they were abject and listless. That is in essence how France have performed so far this RWC, as it was a similar performance against Argentina in their opening match.
Jacques Brunel’s team blew Argentina away in the first half, playing a game with a lot of width and speed, only to shut down completely in the second 40 and only scrape a victory.
Les Bleus came close to spurning the largest halftime lead in the RWC against Argentina, only a matter of months after they let the biggest halftime lead slip in the Six Nations against Roberts’ countrymen.
After leading 16-0 in the opening game of the tournament in February, they became their own worst enemy with some calamitous decisions that gifted the Welsh two tries, and they do not look like they have learned from that experience.
This may have not been the strongest French XV against the USA, but no team Brunel puts out currently look like they can string together a strong 80 minutes. When they play well they are as good as anyone, but it is simply the periods of play where they shut down that are hurting them.
Stamina has been a perennial problem for the France team over the past few years, but in some instances it has simply come down to poor game management, particularly against Argentina.
Roberts’ assessment is undoubtedly right, but the question that lingers over the French is whether they have 80 minutes in them. No one, including the France squad, seems to know that.
Defence Coach Andy Farrell has called on Ireland to channel the spirit of England’s 2007 World Cup run to turn their Japanese quest on its head.
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