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France need to win, so they will, says Loffreda

By Peter Bills

Argentina's rugby men are of one accord. They believe France will beat Ireland at Stade de France tonight.

Coach Marcelo Loffreda says frankly, "I think France will win this match at this particular moment. They have a necessity to win. Everything will conspire on that in a good sense. France has the obligation to win. But that is France and Ireland's problems."

Yet the Pumas, who will face Ireland on Sunday week in Paris, also make another very relevant point about a game that neither side can really afford to lose tonight.

"Ireland can be a better team than they are showing at the moment" says Loffreda. "It is all about attitude. They have played against two countries that are not in the first league of rankings. So sometimes your mind and the players' minds are not quite right.

"You say that you have a good attitude to go and play but inside, there is not that good attitude you think you have. So maybe it was a mental thing, I think, for Ireland against Namibia and Georgia. But Ireland have good players and a good strategy. They did some very good work in the last Six Nations so they have the power and the potential."

In a sense, both countries tonight are in the doghouse of rugby. France have been vilified for losing to the Pumas , Ireland for their stuttering, unconvincing performances in two games.

Loffreda has some firm views on the quality of rugby currently being produced by the Six Nations teams.

"The northern hemisphere countries have to change, they must be more dynamic. They cannot afford to be so structured in their game.

"The ball must be released quicker, that is one of the things. But also sometimes you have to work in different rhythms. That means sometimes very quick, sometimes very slow. Not the same pace all the time."

But there is one other component part of Argentina's whole raison d'etre which is at variance with most rugby playing nations of the world, certainly of the northern hemisphere.

"To us, the most important thing is the spirit of rugby. We always say to the players, of course we have goals and objectives but one of the things that must be in every day, every practice session and even every meal we have together is enjoyment. We want to enjoy this whole experience. That is one of the main things you need in life, in rugby and in any job.

"Maybe that is one of the problems with a team like Ireland. There is a lot of pressure on them, there are a lot of interests. Sometimes the media can change your mind too. But I think one of the key things in different activities is to enjoy it."

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