France claim to be stronger for their Tonga trauma

FRENCH fly-half Dimitri Yachvili insists last week’s humbling at the hands of Tonga has been wiped from the memory banks as preparations for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against England intensify.

Defeat against the Pool A minnows sparked claims of a mutiny against coach Marc Lievremont, but the Biarritz No9 is adamant those rumours could not be further from the truth, as France look to reverse recent World Cup history against opponents who have knocked them out of the last two tournaments.

“We changed a lot; we talked a lot together this week,” Yachvili said. “We didn’t train for three months to stop at the quarter-final.

“It’s the quarter-final of the World Cup and maybe we will never play again in the quarter-final of the World Cup. That’s the motivation. We know that if we play the same way we played last week we cannot win against England. It’s going to be very hard, but on Saturday it will be another team than last Saturday.”

France have concentrated on ironing out their flaws since the Wellington defeat which saw them advance to the last eight in unconvincing fashion.

“During the quarter-final, semi-final and final, the most important thing is the basics and the English are the best, maybe in the world, at the basics.

“That’s why we trained a lot on the basics this week. We have to put a lot of pressure on them and, as usual, be better in the forwards than them.”

Yachvili highlighted England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and centre Manu Tuilagi – particularly his ability to cross the gain line as key dangers – while recognising the challenge presented to break through their defence.

“We respect a lot this team because they’ve conceded just one try since the beginning of the World Cup,” he said.

“This is one of the best teams in the world. We train this week to be as good as them. If we are efficient then we can win against England.”

Les Bleus look to copy England lead

FRANCE defence coach Dave Ellis believes that by following England’s 2007 example Les Bleus can advance to the World Cup semi-finals. England stuttered during the group stages four years ago before the senior players took on extra responsibly, as France have done this time around. Ellis said: “The players haven’t taken anything out of the hands of the coaches, they've just taken more responsibility for their actions.”