Thu, Oct 18, 2007 - Page 20 News List

France look for revenge against Pumas


France and Argentina clash in Paris tomorrow in a World Cup third place play-off overshadowed by simmering French resentment at their opening night shock defeat to the Pumas five weeks ago.

That 17-12 embarrassment threatened to send the hosts' campaign into freefall before they righted their listing ship with a spectacular win over the All Blacks.

But any hopes of a festival of running rugby at the Parc des Princes to deliver an antidote to the pragmatism of the kicking game have been dashed by a bitter war of words between the two sides.

France fullback Clement Poitrenaud has told the South Americans to "put up or shut up" after they criticized the French for failing to honor their running traditions.

Influential Pumas center Felipe Contepomi said that France's reputation for "champagne rugby" was a thing of the past.

"He wants to talk to me about champagne rugby?" Poitrenaud said. "They have been relying just on mauls and up-and-unders. They need to stop mouthing off."

Some in the France team said after that first night defeat that the Pumas hadn't really shown anything great in their approach to the game.

Fiery Argentina skipper Agustin Pichot, who plays his club rugby in France, was having none of it.

"The French cannot criticize us. They have massacred us by claiming that we hadn't played. It's incredible," he said.

After that opening skirmish, both France and Argentina went on to reach the semi-finals, for the first time in the case of the Pumas.

But France's hopes of making the final were dashed by defending champions England 14-9, while Argentina were brushed aside by South Africa 37-13.

France coach Bernard Laporte has made nine changes to his team before he steps down to take up a junior post in the government.

Four of the changes come in the pack with the return of Jean-Baptiste Poux at prop, Lionel Nallet at lock and Yannick Nyanga and Imanol Harinordoquy in the back row

At the back, Frederic Michalak takes over at flyhalf with David Skrela at center, Christophe Dominici and Aurelien Rougerie on the wings and Poitrenaud at fullback.

Damien Traille, who played fullback against England, returns to his more customary center position.

Also see: Jones ready for another crack at England

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