Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: French resistance futile in final reckoning

“It’s Sunday evening in Auckland, the spectacular focus of the sporting world,” began Steve Rider as ITV neared the end of its 10th year of Rugby World Cup coverage — or did it just feel that long?

But I must stop you, Steve, as for normal people it was still early o’clock on Sunday morning and my hangover just can’t cope with Lawrence Dallaglio at that time of the day, especially when you’ve just wakened from a dream involving Phil Taylor, Jim Rosenthal and the Jamaican netball team.

Apparently it was match 48 and right from the off the French were about as welcome as Marc Lievremont at a French training session, although even he’s slightly more popular than Francois Pienaar who won’t be taking a dander down the Champs d’Elysses anytime soon.

Apparently they weren’t overly enamoured by his comments that they were the worst ever team to reach the World Cup final, and the South African legend didn’t help matters by borrowing my grand livre de garçons de stéréotypes français.

“I’m thinking I’m going to struggle to get my hands on some foie gras for a while,” he chortled, as Sean Fitzpatrick and Michael Lynagh dressed up as two waitresses and Steve put on an apron.

There were more surprises in store, Tony Woodcock popping up to score the opening try, from a neat build-up involving Viv Anderson and Kenny Burns, but despite that it was only 5-0 at the break.

“The French are making me eat my beret,” Francois continued, but while dreaming of the Fallen Madonna with the big Gilberts, he must nearly have choked on it as Thierry Dusautoir, displaying Gallic handling skills Thierry Henry would have been proud of, barrelled over to reduce it to 8-7.

It was nail-biting stuff but in the end the All Blacks held on, Nick Mullins having the good grace to have one final dig at the French though.

“Once again they’ve got to a World Cup final and once again they’ve been beaten; the little pot of gold tantalisingly out of reach,” he said, although given that Richie McCaw said he was ‘shagged’ after the game it may well have been beyond his grasp too.

But no, the skipper was able to accept the Webb Ellis trophy from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key who had a dream that the All Blacks won the World Cup and McCaw then became leader of the opposition with the election just around the corner.

He didn’t seem to mention Phil, Jim or any Jamaicans though.

Belfast Telegraph

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