x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

France are 'burdened' by bad year

Thierry Dusautoir, the France captain, wants his side to shed its inhibitions and start playing effectively.

WELLINGTON // The France captain Thierry Dusautoir said that the team's lack of confidence has become a burden, and stems from a disappointing run of form that has lasted more than a year.

On the eve of France's decisive Pool A match against Tonga today, Dusautoir said that the time has come for France to shed its inhibitions and start playing effectively.

After clinching the Six Nations Championship with a Grand Slam in 2010, France's level inexplicably dipped.

France went on to lose 42-17 in South Africa, 41-13 in Argentina and was on the receiving end of a 59-16 hammering from Australia at Stade de France last November.

They then relinquished their Six Nations title, losing away to England before a humiliating defeat in Italy.

"Our last season wasn't good. Unfortunately, we're still carrying it like a burden," Dusautoir said. "Only big games and big performances will allow us to forget the bad experiences we had."

Although France beat Ireland in their two World Cup warm-up matches, they failed to carry any momentum into the tournament and laboured to scrappy wins against Japan and Canada before losing 37-17 to New Zealand.

"Our performances haven't been exceptional so far," Dusautoir said. "All of this stems from a lack of confidence. It would be good to be totally free of this and to play all out."

France have always qualified for the knock-out stages of the World Cup, losing the final in 1987 and 1999, but will be eliminated if Tonga scores four tries and wins by more than seven points.

Tongans are expected to dominate the crowd, dwarfing the group of travelling French fans.