Clerc has faith in France
October 20, 2011
France wing Vincent Clerc insists the Rugby World Cup final is not a done deal © Getty Images
Vincent Clerc insists that the outcome of Sunday's Rugby World Cup final in Auckland is not a foregone conclusion and that France have it in themselves to upset the All Blacks.
New Zealand are the overwhelming favourites to prevail, having already defeated Les Bleus on their imperious run to the tournament decider, which has also included impressive wins over Argentina and Australia.
France have reached the final in a far less convincing manner. Marc Lievremont's men, who have appeared on the verge of mutiny at several junctures during the event, only barely scraped through their Pool - as well as being beaten by the hosts, they were also embarrassed by Tonga - and they truly awful in edging out 14-man Wales in the semi-finals.
In spite of all of this, Clerc still believes that the French believe that they can shock the Kiwis.
"Nothing is written yet... they're not world champions," the winger said. "I don't feel like a future loser, or someone who has no chance of [winning]. We're still in the final, and despite how we've played so far, it's Sunday that counts.
"If we're here now it's that we deserve to be here. We've said for a while now that we came here to be world champions. Maybe it hasn't been a dream run, but we're going there to win."
Clerc points to France's stunning quarter-final success over New Zealand in Cardiff in the 2007 World Cup and their triumph at Dunedin two years ago as proof that they have what it takes to topple the world's number one side.
"We know that maybe we're not as good as them, but that we can unsettle them and do some exceptional things," the Toulouse ace said.
"We did this in 2007 and in Dunedin a few years ago. That's a big source of inspiration for us. I think the French teams have always been a bit less talented than the All Blacks, but still managed improbable victories.
"You have to play the game of your life to beat the All Blacks, you have to be at 100 per cent in every domain. We're going to need to be totally committed. But we also have to play intelligently and not try any old thing.
"We're all alone on the other side of the world. In Cardiff we were all alone with no French fans there. There's the same kind of feeling as 2007. We don't want to miss out on this opportunity."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9