Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Szarzewski frustrated by final loss

Dimitri Szarzewski

Deflated France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski claimed his side were "playing 15 against 16" in their Rugby World Cup final defeat against New Zealand due to the passionate home support in Auckland.

The Eden Park crowd kept the All Blacks' spirits up on Sunday as they repelled wave after wave of pressure from Les Bleus in the last 20 minutes in particular.

Heartbroken by the narrow 8-7 defeat, Szarzewski admitted the New Zealand fans had played a big role, and said: "We are very frustrated. But that's just sport. We were playing 15 against 16 and everyone found it logical that New Zealand won. We put pressure on them, but it wasn't enough."

He added: "There wasn't much difference. We countered them, but it wasn't enough. The kicking was bad for both teams. But we are not disappointed about our World Cup."

Szarzewski's front-row partner Fabien Barcella rued a change of fortunes from their abject semi-final performance - one that fooled a lot of people into underestimating their chances a week later.

"To lose a final like this, with such a small margin, in such difficult conditions, it's very sad," Barcella said.

"This week we deserved to win and lost, whereas last week (against Wales) we deserved to lose and won."

The tone was set in the response to the haka, a 'flying V' style linking of arms that saw the white-shirted Frenchmen advance over the halfway line towards the All Blacks in a show of solidarity and intent.

It may cost them in fines from the International Rugby Board for encroaching over their own 40-metres line, but they have no regrets.

"We wanted to do something. It was pretty cool, I believe," Barcella said. "We were 30 (players). It was a V for Victory, but we are just really sad."

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