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France aware of Olympic Stadium history ahead of Romania clash

Published 22/09/2015

Yannick Nyanga believes France will draw inspiration from London 2012 when facing Romania at the Olympic Stadium
Yannick Nyanga believes France will draw inspiration from London 2012 when facing Romania at the Olympic Stadium

France will channel the London 2012 exploits of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah when facing Romania in the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night.

Flanker Yannick Nyanga admitted Les Blues will "imagine ourselves in the place of the athletes" in their second Pool D clash.

"It's a great experience to come here," said Nyanga.

"We have never played here before, and we like the change.

"We know the story with the Olympic Games in 2012.

"A huge part of the team have been waiting for this game."

Farah claimed 10,000m gold in the same hour that Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford also claimed Olympic glory in London's Stratford stadium on 'Super Saturday'.

Bolt grabbed 100m glory a day later, while Farah secured the distance double by adding the 5,000m gold to his earlier triumph.

Racing Metro back-rower Nyanga admitted the France squad are well aware of the stadium's short but glittering past, and immediately targeting capitalising on that legacy.

"It is good for us to discover the stadium, we imagine ourselves in the place of the athletes," said Nyanga.

"Usain Bolt does great things every time he steps out. And we think of Mo Farah, who won on home turf."

When France ground their way to the 2011 World Cup final after a dismal build-up amid endless in-fighting, the players revolted and marginalised coach Marc Lievremont.

France lost out to New Zealand in the final but reached the showpiece almost under their own auspices as a group of players.

Four years on the French arrived at the World Cup similarly struggling for form, and with current boss Philippe Saint-Andre stepping down at the end of the competition.

Clearly keen for history not to repeat itself where the coaches' influence - or lack thereof - is concerned, assistant boss Patrice Lagisquet hailed France's players for taking World Cup ownership.

"Our intervention is less and less important," said Lagisquet.

"The players take things in hand themselves and make decisions."

Fit-again Wesley Fofana slots into the centres to partner Gael Fickou, with Brice Dulin slotting in at full-back to replace Yoann Huget, out of the tournament with knee ligament trouble.

Lagisquet challenged the highly-rated Fofana to shrug off outside brickbats and hit top form now his World Cup is set for lift-off.

"He needs to detach himself from all the external concerns that everyone is expecting big things from him," said Lagisquet of Fofana.

"He needs to step back sufficiently not to go looking for these big things.

"It is true that I find him a little too permeable to the outside, the media."

Romania boss Lyn Howells coached in Wales' set-up at the 1999 World Cup, admitting the tournament's spectacle has spiralled in the intervening 16 years.

Howells believes Japan's stunning victory over South Africa may just make Romania's job that bit harder to pull off the odd upset.

"When I was with Wales in 1999 I came at it with the view of it being a home World Cup," said Howells.

"Now having the experience with Romania as an away nation it really is something quite special and different for me on a personal level.

"Japan's victory was a great result for the tier two nations and for the game of rugby, but in terms of our preparation it has not changed our approach to this match.

"I think it's definitely scared the bigger teams not to take us or any of the smaller nations too easily."

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