Player Ratings: France
OPINION: France are out of the Rugby World Cup. The tournament hosts have crashed out of the event at the quarter-final stage after losing to reigning champions South Africa 28-29 at Stade de France.
Playing in front of more than 79,450 people, Les Bleus struck first as prop Cyril Baille crashed over in just the third minute, but the Springboks were never out of the fight.
It was tense, exciting, chaotic and brilliant as a Handre Pollard penalty made it a one-point game in the Springboks’ favour with less than 10 minutes to play.
While Les Bleus mounted a couple of meaningful attacks into the South African 22, their efforts were ultimately in vain as they fell to a heartbreaking defeat at home.
Finn Morton rates the French players:
15 Thomas Ramos – 6.5
Fullback Thomas Ramos didn’t make one tackle against and conceded two penalties. The sharp-shooter managed to hit the target with most of his goal kicks though as France engaged in a rugby battle for the ages. But much like some of his teammates, Ramos just seemed to go missing at times and that proved costly against a desperate Springboks outfit
14 Damian Penaud – 6
There will be no record for tries in a single Rugby World Cup for wing Damian Penaud at this tournament. Penaud didn’t find the try line, in fact he didn’t come close, in what was clearly his quietest night at the World Cup. The wing looked threatening with the ball but it wasn’t the dream Test that either Penaud or France wanted.
13 Gael Fickou – 5.5
Centre Gael Fickou showed moments of class against a red-hot Springboks outfit, but that’s all it was really: moments. While the stat sheet will read that Fickou ran for 50 metres, the midfielder went missing far too much. That’s a price you can’t afford to pay when you’re lining up opposite a World Cup-winning duo of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.
12 Jonathan Danty – 5.5
Jonathan Danty looked threatening with the ball at times, but the centre wasn’t able to make the most of any headaches he caused. Danty averaged less than one metre per carry, and that includes some runs which saw the midfielder beat five defenders.
11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey – 4
The life of a winger can be exciting, headline-grabbing and satisfying – and other times it’s the opposite. If the ball doesn’t come to your wing there’s not much a player can do, and that sums up Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s first-half. The speedster only ran the ball once for one metre during the opening 3 minutes and produced an ineffective clearance kick with his next touch.
While Bielle-Biarrey got the ball more times during the second term, it wasn’t anything to note really. It was a tough night for the left wing.
10 Matthieu Jalibert – 7
With halfback Antoine Dupont back in the halves, fly-half Matthieu Jalibert took a back seat during a thrilling first half. Jalibert reeled in a clever Dupont chip kick early on, but that proved to be his only major involvement during that half.
Jalibert was better after the break, though, with the playmaker dancing around some defenders before sending teammate Charles Ollivon on a lengthy break. Things continued to improve for the pivot as France took control of the Test. Could’ve rated him anywhere between a 6.5 and 7.5.
9 Antoine Dupont – 8
Reigning World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont was back in blue on Sunday night just three weeks after recovering from surgery after fracturing his cheekbone. Sporting black and white headgear, Dupont didn’t skip a beat against the defending Rugby World Cup champions.
Dupont looked cool, calm and collected back in the Test arena. The halfback kicked well, but was especially impressive on the back of his quick and clever passing game. Dupont sent teammate Peato Mauvaka over for a try midway through the first-half and was also lethal with his running game.
1 Cyril Baille – 7
When Cyril Baille was replaced in the 50th minute, thousands of fans cheered as they gave the front-rower a much-deserved standing ovation. Baille scored the first try of the Test in just the fourth minute and completed a first-half double about 25 minutes later. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though, with the loosehead giving away a scrum penalty just before the half-time break.
2 Peato Mauvaka – 8.5
Along with captain Antoine Dupont, hooker Peato Mauvaka was clearly one of France’s best players on the night. Mauvaka was perfect at the set-piece from about 11 throws, ran the ball with purpose, and scored a try as well. In the end, Mauvaka finished with an incredible 77 running metres from 13 carries, made two line breaks and beat five defenders.
3 Uini Atonio – 5
Prop Uini Atonio had an uncharacteristically quiet night against the Springboks. While fellow front-rowers Baille and Mauvaka hit their stride, New Zealand-born Atonio seemed to go missing for extended periods. The French enforcer averaged about one metre per carry and missed one of his three tackle attempts. South Africa also controlled the scrum battle during the first term.
4 Cameron Woki – 7.5
The success or failure of France’s lineout, it seems, rests on the shoulders of one man, and that man in Cameron Woki. Woki was the go-to man at the set-piece on eight occasions, which follows on from a similar showing last week against the Italians in Lyon.
Woki defended well as the towering lock made all four of his tackle attempts, fought hard for much-needed metres – but what was especially impressive was his work rate as Woki appeared to be in the thick of pretty well everything.
5 Thibaud Flament – 6
It was a mixed night for Thibaud Flament with the lock staring in defence but failing to fire on the other side of the ball. Flament only ran the ball once during the first half, and that didn’t change in his 10 minutes on the field during the second term.
But Flament was solid defensively – finishing with 100 per cent tackle completion from eight attempts. The second-rower had made the most tackles out of any French player when he was replaced in the 50th minute.
6 Anthony Jelonch – 7
Blindside flanker Anthony Jelonch received a deafening cheer from the Parisian crowd as he made his way off the field early in the second-half. Jelonch had put in a massive shift at Stade de France and the crowd, clearly, appreciated the flanker’s efforts.
When Jelonch let the field, the 27-year-old had run the ball 10 times for 17 metres, beaten one defender, and impressed on the defensive side of the ball with seven completed tackles from nine attempts.
7 Charles Ollivon – 7
Behind lock Cameron Woki, flanker Charles Ollivon was the backup option at the lineout with the backrower targeted twice at the set-piece. Ollivon worked hard around the field too as he ran for more than 50 metres from 12 carries, and held his own in defence with nine tackles from 10 attempts.
8 Gregory Alldritt – 7.5
With the Test in the balance, world-class Number Eight Gregory Alldritt made his way off the field with just over 10 minutes to play. Alldritt ad put in some serious work against a talented French outfit. The backrower carried the ball 13 times for more than 40 metres, beating two defenders and he completed all nine of his tackle attempts.
16 Pierre Bourgarit – 5
17 Reda Wardi – 6.5
18 Dorian Aldegheri – 5.5
19 Romain Taofifenua – 5.5
20 Francois Cros – 6.5
21 Sekou Macalou – 5.5
22 Maxime Lucu – N/A
23 Yoram Moefana – N/A
By Finn Morton, @RugbyPass