French media attack NZ counterparts

THE French media is up in arms over suggestions that Les Bleus' appearance in the Rugby World Cup final is an insult to the game.

Victor Dhollande-Monnier of Europe1 was not impressed with the Herald on Sunday's '80 Minutes and we're laughing' headline.

"Since the beginning of the World Cup the New Zealand press has taken it upon themselves to unleash on Marc Lievremont's team. After the tight victory over the Welsh the local newspapers did not hesitate to make a bitter attack on the French XV.

"The top newspaper of the country joked on Sunday about the difficulties the French had defeating Wales. '80 Minutes and we're laughing' makes reference to the final next Sunday and it twists the knife with another article stating 'France give final insult'. The meaning of the title is clear: France have stolen a place in the final."

Dhollande-Monnier admitted it is not just the New Zealand press taking shots at the French side.

"Some big rugby names have not been easy on the France XV," he wrote in reference to Chris Ashton and François Pienaar dismissing the team.

L'Equipe and also took objection to Gregor Paul's 'France give final insult' article.

"The presence of the Blues is perceived as an insult," complained L'Equipe.

While France's unlikely appearance in the final is the titre du jour, the All Blacks' road to the final has set tongues wagging.

Grégory Jouin of declared "The All Blacks face their nemesis".

Jouin wrote that while the impeccable Eden Park record will work in the hosts' favour, New Zealanders are all too familiar with the capabilities of Lievremont's side.

"If South Africa is the historic rival of New Zealand, if Australia remains the hated neighbour, the France team is always a challenge, especially for the All Blacks who know the Blues are capable of anything.

"Two of the biggest disappointments for New Zealand in the World Cup came through the fault of those damn 'Frenchies' and no one in New Zealand has forgotten it."

Laurent Duyck of Sports.Fr cannot wait for the match-up of the inaugural Rugby World Cup finalists.

"What better challenge than to take on the best players in the world on their own soil and for the title?," he wrote.

Duyck says despite France's unconvincing semi-final victory over Wales, and whether or not the French feel Les Bleus deserve to be in the final, Thierry Dusautoir and his teammates will not take a defeatist attitude into the game.

France's TV5 warns the All Blacks should be wary of "dream breakers" France.

"Since the first edition of the championships, the All Blacks have accumulated setbacks in the World Cup, especially against the French, dream breakers in the semifinals in 1999 (43-31) and the quarter-finals in 2007 (20-18).

"In other words, for the French, the atmosphere of the last week in Auckland will not be one of camaraderie. But this hostility seems to fit like a glove to the players of Marc Lievremont."

While former France player Sebastian Chabal tweeted that he's looking forward to "80 minutes of happiness", Vincent Clerc was more direct in his approach: "Revenge next Sunday!"