After England’s historic victory over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday, former France international Freddie Michalak has admitted that his country “would like to look like them”.
The Lyon flyhalf made the statement on Twitter, although he also pointed out that they still “hate the English” (translated on Twitter).
Eddie Jones side pulled off one of the victories for the ages in Yokohama, as his side completely shut down the reigning champions for a 19-7 win, in which the All Blacks only scored from a mistake at a lineout.
On déteste les Anglais … mais on aimerait leurs ressembler ! Incroyablement fort ??
— Fred Michalak (@michalakfred) October 26, 2019
It was a display that took a leaf out of France’s book, as it was probably the most inspired performance at the RWC since Michalak’s countrymen pushed the All Blacks all the way in the 2011 final, although they fell agonisingly short on that occasion.
In fact, France are synonymous with stunning the All Blacks at the RWC, as they did in both 1999 and 2007 as well. However, Les Bleus have not looked like being able to conjure the same magic in recent years, which is why the 37-year-old concedes that they would like to resemble England.
Michalak’s France fell to England in the semi-final in 2007 after beating the All Blacks, the same stage that they crashed out to Sir Clive Woodward’s side in the 2003 RWC. He is part of a generation of French players that had a fierce rivalry with their cross-channel neighbours, as both sides dominated northern hemisphere rugby. However, the three-time RWC finalists have lost their way in recent years.
The 77-cap international described the display as “incredibly strong”, and they will head into the RWC final this Saturday as favourites against South Africa. They physically dominated the three-time world champions, and there is no higher praise than from one of England’s bitterest enemies than this.
Eddie Jones and Ben Youngs speak at a press conference following Saturdays win, seeing the England rugby squad seal their place in the final of the World Cup.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now