We must win at all costs, says Dusautoir
PARIS (AFP) –
France must do whatever it takes to beat Ireland in their Six Nations clash in Dublin on Saturday and ease the pressure on them landing their first wooden spoon since 1957, captain Thierry Dusautoir has demanded.
The French have made their worst start to a Five/Six Nations since 1982 in losing their first three matches, and are the only side still to record a point.
But they travel to Dublin at least in the knowledge they have lost only once to their opponents in their last 13 tests, the Irish Grand Slam in 2009.
Dusautoir, though, said he couldn’t countenance the thought of defeat.
“I prefer not to even think about it, even if it is always a possible outcome in sport,” said the 31-year-old Toulouse flanker.
“It is something that one doesn’t want to envisage and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“There is the fierce pride to show that we are a team of good rugby players.
“At the end of the day it is imperative we win. The French team was often criticised because it won ugly, but at the same time it won.
“We are painfully aware that the victory, whatever the manner of it, is really important. Today we are really hungry to win, whatever it costs.”
The Ivory Coast-born France skipper, son of a French father and an Ivorian mother, said that the present squad was not lacking in guts and determination, contrary to what many of their critics and former players have said.
“I think this squad has character and is going to show it,” said Dusautoir, who has earned the sobriquet the ‘Dark Destroyer’ for his fierce tackling.
“In our first match, without taking away from the Italian performance (a 23-18 defeat), we let the match drift past us, the second (a 16-6 home loss to Wales) was a real hard-fought tussle until we lost in the 72nd minute (conceding the only try of the match) and the third (a 23-13 defeat against England), we lost our way in the second-half.
“For each match there is an explanation as to why we lost. It is vital we start putting together all the good factors and produce a perfect match because that is what is asked of you to win at the highest level.”
Dusautoir was not the original choice as skipper for the Six Nations as Philippe Saint-Andre opted to give him more time to recover his playing form and chose Pascal Pape instead, before the lock suffered a tournament-ending injury against Italy.
And he said that for the young squad the poor run was a new experience after the high of winning their three November tests.
“This squad is different to the one that played in the last World Cup,” said Dusautoir, who skippered the French to their 8-7 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks in the 2011 World Cup final.
“It is in the middle of experiencing its first tough patch, it is something new for them.
“This squad is at the moment trying to go into hiding at difficult moments.
“It is crucial that the players show they have the resources to react to such crises. There are lots of young players who have only known the good side of international rugby. With victories and the ensuing eulogies, life is a lot simpler.
“Today the opposite is the case. These are the two extremes that one gets acquainted with at this level. To know what both of them are like is not too serious.
“The important thing is to know how to get back up off the canvas. They’re currently in the process of building up experience and character.”