Rugby World Cup: don’t discount France against New Zealand

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The general consensus is that if New Zealand turn up on Sunday, they will win.

After years of near misses, the All Blacks head into the final as huge 1/9 favourites and are expected to sweep aside the French in front of a partisan home crowd.

However, France should not be completely ignored and have the pedigree to cause Graham Henry’s side problems.

France may have been demolished 37-17 by the All Blacks in the pool stages earlier in the tournament, but the French have a history of upsetting the Rugby World Cup odds.

Les Bleus swept past the All Blacks 43-31 in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi final and in 2007 they also saw off New Zealand with a hard fought 20-18 victory at the quarter final stage.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s hopes of winning the World Cup took a huge blow during the pool stages when fly-half Dan Carter was ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury.

Aaron Cruden has deputised admirably but the absence of Carter – who is quite simply one of the best players in the world – always offers hope to the opponents.

With France naming an unchanged line-up for the third consecutive game, boss Marc Lievremont clearly believes there is more for this team to offer and, if they can disrupt the New Zealand pack and get at Cruden, they will give the All Blacks a tough game.

The hosts are rightful favourites at 1/9 but France shouldn’t be ignored and a bet on them to win at 13/2 could lead to a massive payout if the unthinkable happens.

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