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Wales deserve favouritism, says French coach

France have lost seven of their last eight games against Wales.

France’s Antoine Dupont is tackled by Tonga’s Nasi Manu in a group game at the World Cup (David Davies/PA)
France’s Antoine Dupont is tackled by Tonga’s Nasi Manu in a group game at the World Cup (David Davies/PA)

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent, Beppu

France head coach Jacques Brunel accepts that Wales are favourites to win Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final between the Six Nations rivals.

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Les Bleus have only toppled Wales once from eight attempts since beating them 9-8 in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals.

Although many of the subsequent games have been close affairs, France consistently came out on the wrong side.

“Wales’ confidence is higher than ours, that’s obvious,” Brunel said.

They're the favourites, we are in the role of the underdog Jacques Brunel

“They have been consistent for a few seasons. That is undeniable.

“They’re the favourites, we are in the role of the underdog. That is logical, normal, but it doesn’t stop us believing in our chances.”

France have been boosted by the return to fitness of scrum-half Antoine Dupont and wing Damien Penaud, but they will encounter a Wales team who have won 19 of their last 22 Tests.

“They (Wales) are not going to change their strategy,” Brunel added.

“They are going to rely on a very strong defensive screen, quality individuals, their ability to put the opposition under pressure.

“It is the same XV that played against Australia (last month). In the first seven minutes, they suffocated Australia and perhaps won the match there.

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France coach Jacques Brunel (David Davies/PA)

“They are capable of imposing that, but by contrast, we saw in their recent matches that there were opportunities. We have the ability to trouble them.

“Twelve teams have gone home, and some weren’t expecting to. We are there, still involved, preparing for a match.

“To keep going, we will need a lot of courage, enthusiasm, determination, and drive in everything we do. I hope we will be able to show the face we want to during the 80 minutes.”

“The biggest motivation has to be being among the best players in the world.”

PA

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