Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Laporte says he is planning to emulate Ireland's strategy

AFP , AGEN, FRANCE

France rugby coach Bernard Laporte gives instructions to his players during a training session at the French national rugby union center in Marcoussis, south of Paris, on Nov. 22.

PHOTO: AP

France coach Bernard Laporte revealed on Thursday that he would be looking to emulate Ireland's strategy as the hosts prepare for next year's rugby World Cup.

Laporte blamed the heavy club schedule of many of France's internationals for their dismal autumn series which included two limp and uninspiring losses to World Cup favorites the All Blacks.

And he said that the two-time world finalists would be using the Six Nations Championship as a springboard for their World Cup campaign.

"We have to win the Six Nations, our reputation is at stake, but we want to use this big gathering to have a look at all the players," said Laporte during the official presentation for the 2007 Six Nations.

And for the first time in the competition, all forty members of the France squad will be mobilized for the tournament from Feb. 3 to March 18.

"Of prime importance will be physical freshness, enthusiasm and spirit of competition," explained Laporte, adding that during the November Test series "[teams like Ireland] showed a totally different level of physical freshness than us."

"A player like [Ireland captain] Brian O'Driscoll plays half the matches of our centers and on the pitch that shows," he said.

Laporte pointed out that they will be looking to build physical fitness with a wide-ranging program of activities scheduled for the week before each match, with players aware that their place in the World Cup is at stake.

"All [of the 40 players] will play at least one tournament match, but no-one will play all five matches," Laporte said.

Toulouse fly-half Frederic Michalak, who underwent knee surgery last month, will however not be among the group, Laporte added.

France open their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on Feb. 3, followed by Ireland at Croke Park in Dublin on Feb. 11.

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