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Class of 2011 still feeling hurt of semi-final loss to France: Gatland

By Andrew Baldock

Warren Gatland believes that Wales' agonising 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat against France probably still hurts those players who were involved.

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Wales face Les Bleus in a last-eight clash next Sunday, inevitably evoking memories of events at Eden Park, Auckland eight years ago.

Captain Sam Warburton was sent off by referee Alain Rolland for a tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc just 17 minutes in.

But even with 14 men for more than an hour, Wales dominated much of the action before being edged out 9-8.

Six of the 2011 squad - Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn Jones - are in Gatland's current group, plus assistant coach Stephen Jones and fitness expert Huw Bennett, who both featured in that game.

"The 2011 game probably hurts still for the players involved," Gatland said. "Getting a red card after 17 minutes against a world-class team, you expect to lose by 20 or 30 points. But we hung in until the end.

"To lose that game 9-8 was pretty disappointing, but it showed what this team is all about. They never give up.

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"That is the great character we've developed over a number of years."

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