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Mathieu Bastareaud on France's 'final dream' opponent

By Ned Lester
France centre Mathieu Bastareaud. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

France’s statement win over Italy in Lyon saw the host nation secure the top seed in Pool A, setting up a date with Pool B’s runner-up in the quarter-finals.

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Given the current standings, that team is most likely to be South Africa, the reigning world champions. It would be a cruel reward for overcoming all challenges that have come France’s way, but that is the nature of Rugby World Cups.

With the form of the two teams, the contest would promise a final-worthy spectacle, and should France’s influential captain Antoine Dupont return from injury in time, it would certainly be a superstar showdown.

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Before the pools are set though, Ireland must play Scotland to secure their top seed as well as South Africa’s second seed.

There is every chance that the French may yet play either Ireland or Scotland in the first round of the knockout stages, but when former France midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud was asked which team France would fear in the quarters, his mind jumped to the defending champions.

“For sure, South Africa,” he told The Front Row Daily Show. But, then the idea of playing Ireland instead was raised. “It’s 50/50,” he laughed.

“South Africa, they are very confident. They look very confident. They remember the game in Marseille, so I think they want their revenge.”

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Attack

164
Passes
164
143
Ball Carries
112
254m
Post Contact Metres
270m
11
Line Breaks
4

The 30-26 French victory over the Springboks in Marseille during last year’s Autumn Nations Series was the last contest between the two nations, and will no doubt have left a sour taste in South African mouths as their victory was snatched in the final minutes.

Regardless of their quarter-final opponents, should the French progress through to the final, there is one nation in which France have a deeply competitive history with at Rugby World Cups and would love to face on the grandest stage rugby has to offer.

“In France, we have a lot of respect for New Zealand, for the All Blacks,” Bastareaud said. “You can see when they do the haka, (the crowd’s noise) is very low, because it’s just respect. It’s a final dream.”

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The three-time European Cup champion noted two key ingredients in a successful Rugby World Cup campaign for the French; focus and Antoine Dupont.

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The halfback maestro suffered a facial fracture against Namibia in round three and is pushing for a return for the first round of knockout rugby.

If the 27-year-old is cleared to play, he must be fit to survive the potential three-game run to the final.

“It is very, very important. He is the best player in the world.

“He was in a bad situation because maybe you have to end your World Cup. It’s very hard. So, now he is back and we are very happy in France.

“You have to be focussed, you have seven games to be world champion.

“It’s maybe one month and a half. You just have to stay focused for one month and a half. It’s hard, but when you know the prize after, sometimes in life you have to sacrifice something for your dream, and I think for the French team, that is the moment.”

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Comments

9 Comments
S
Snash 253 days ago

“There is every chance that the French may yet play either Ireland or Scotland” nope its unlikely - Ireland has had Scotlands number for years while Scotland would need 5 points from tomorrows game and - if Ireland get 1 point - just about an impossible (games) points difference, so no not every chance.

K
Kerry 253 days ago

Your wish will come true - its going to be a France NZ repeat winner takes all and what a magnficient Final it will be But first we have Ireland SA Wales and England to navigate

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