RWC 2023: Dearth of knockout experience leaves France floored by seasoned Boks at home World Cup

RWC 2023: Dearth of knockout experience leaves France floored by seasoned Boks at home World Cup

France came into the World Cup with the self-belief their new generation would claim a maiden title, yet they crashed into a brutal reality against South Africa on Sunday — nothing replaces experience.

Les Bleus were playing their first knockout Test under Fabien Galthie and frustration crept up on them as they failed to deal with Ben O’Keeffe’s refereeing while their replacements had no impact and the Springboks’ finishers made the difference in the furore of the Stade de France.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Narrowest of margins: Brutal Boks find a way to edge Les Bleus in Paris quarterfinal thriller 

The quarterfinal exit leaves France where they were in the previous two World Cups — at the door of the business end of the tournament, and a couple of notches below the not-so-loved team of 2011.

That year, France were beaten by a single point (8-7), too, but it was in the final against hosts New Zealand in a contest that triggered debates about refereeing as well.

Galthie, who took over after the 2019 World Cup, had been given unprecedented means to prepare for this year’s home tournament and he failed to deliver, even if he still has another four-year cycle to meet his target.

The former France captain had 42 players at his disposal during training camps and the players had never been more available to him after the French federation and the French league struck a deal that heavily favoured the national team.

Fabien Galthie

France head coach Fabien Galthie following defeat by the Springboks. (Photo: Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

The French staff also had Jerome Garces, the 2019 World Cup final referee, on their payroll, and this should have helped them better prepare for Sunday’s furious battle, which South Africa won 29-28.

Losing to the defending champions by a single point is not a disgrace, even in the quarterfinals after the draw was made at a time when the rugby world’s order was different.

Yet, the French federation spent about €9-million (R185-million)) to compensate the clubs in a World Cup year to have them at their disposal as much as possible and the ma

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