After Japan’s win over Ireland just days old, many watching were entertaining the thought that the USA Eagles would do the same against France.
For 60 minutes the USA pushed an underwhelming French side as the Americans trialed by just three points at 12-9 before a final flurry saw France take a bonus-point win 33-9 in the last 20 minutes.
The French performance has been widely criticised by fans in the aftermath for being discernibly ‘French’, with a limp effort against the USA. One fan wrote ‘the worse France play now, the better they’ll play against England’ expecting that in typically French fashion they will show up for the bigger clash.
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Rugby fans on Twitter blasted the showing, with another fan confident Wales have ‘absolutely nothing to fear’ over a potential quarter-final match-up.
What annoys me about this is that, the worse France play now, the better they’ll play against England.
— Rucked Over (@RuckedOver) October 2, 2019
The French rugby team is so quintessentialy French. When they are bad, they look horrendous. When they are good, they have it on a string. And they alternate every couple of minutes. #FRAvUSA #RWC2019
— Rugby Report Card (@rugby_podcast) October 2, 2019
Seriously sloppy from France, fumbling their way to a belated bonus point win over US. On this evidence @WelshRugbyUnion have nothing to fear over a prospective quarter-final against @FranceRugby Absolutely nothing.
— Peter Jackson (@JackoRugby) October 2, 2019
— ugo monye (@ugomonye) October 2, 2019
Martin Bayfield trotting old the old cliche, "which France is going to turn up"……
Has he watched France over the last 8 years?
France haven't had a strong team for ages.
Here are their 6 Nations finishing positions for the last 8 years.
— rugby (@theblitzdefence) October 2, 2019
Thank you. Been saying this for bloody ages now. See also "you can't write off France". Well I've been writing them off for 8 years now and it's gone just fine, ta.
That said, I do think the new coaches are going to turn this crop of youngsters into something special for 2023.
— Rhiannon Garth Jones (@rhigarthjones) October 2, 2019
The USA were able to wrestle their way into the game through a disciplined performance, not conceding a penalty until the 36th minute while the French constantly infringed, handing the opposition ball and territory.
They were well in the game thanks to compounding French errors and penalties with three AJ McGinty penalties keeping the Eagles within striking distance of France scored two tries early from kicks from Cammy Lopez.
— Tyler Arnold (@TRS_TylerArnold) October 2, 2019
I know they swapped out their speedsters and old lumps, but 12-6 at 61m, #FRAvUSA ?
And how many penalties?
— Matthew Grey (@pauvrordinateur) October 2, 2019
— Terry Hodkin (@Beerwithfeather) October 2, 2019
After emptying the bench, a Gael Fickou try sparked a rally in which France scored their bonus-point try and ran away to finish well-ahead on the scoreboard despite the tense contest.
“The ball was very slippery and we made many mistakes and allowed them to counter, and they had a very tough defence too,” head coach Jacques Brunel said after the game.
“We gave away many penalties which we should have avoided. In the maul, there were many problems.”
Number 8 Louis Picamoles said they have many things to work on but was happy they were able to overcome their mistakes.
“It didn’t work as well as we thought it would, in the first half there were so many mistakes, but we did not panic and we overcame adversity and were able to gain the bonus point. We have many things to work on,” he said.
“It was disappointing that we committed so many fouls.”
Prop Cyril Baille said the side was never afraid of losing the match but did have to question what was going on.
“We weren’t afraid, although it is true that we asked ourselves some questions when it was 12-9 after 60 minutes. We told ourselves that we had to wake up and go after tries. That’s what we did: the reaction of the team was perfect,” he said.
France now sits in second place in Pool C, one competition behind England who will face Argentina in a survival match on Saturday.
The Pumas will have to beat England to be any chance to make the quarterfinals after losing to France in their opening game. France plays Tonga next week before the decisive clash against England that could decide who tops the Pool.
Stephen Ferris Rugby World Cup memories:
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