Rugby World Cup final 2011: France develop siege mentality

Rugby World Cup 2011 final: France v New Zealand

Eden Park, Auckland
Sunday, 23 October
0900 BST / 2100 NZ
Live text commentary, scores and report on BBC website; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; watch live on ITV1, live commentary on TalkSport radio
France fly-half Morgan Parra in action against Wales
Parra said France have been 'hurt' by the criticism they have received

Fly-half Morgan Parra says it is "France against the world" as they prepare for Sunday's World Cup final.

Les Bleus have been widely pilloried for some poor displays during their progress into the final against the All Blacks in Auckland.

"We felt after beating England we might have some more support," said Parra.

"We felt that after beating Wales [in the semi-final] we might have some more support... but yet again, it is us against the world."

Parra said France had responded to the criticism by "cocooning ourselves in a bubble" but admitted it had affected the squad.

"Criticism from supporters or from certain England and Wales players saying we don't belong in the final - that hurts," added the converted scrum-half.

Even coach Marc Lievremont has been critical of their performances, leading to tension with the players, but it has simply served to make the squad a tighter unit.

"We are like a family now," said scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili. "We will have French support... all our families and our squad.

"We know we will be 15 players on the pitch against all the world, maybe."

Winger Vincent Clerc said the French had to be given some credit for their run.

"This is the World Cup final... you can put some of it down to good fortune, but we are not here by chance or coincidence," he insisted.

"We are in our bubble. Not many people believe in us, but we do not want to miss this opportunity."

Catch up on the rest of the World Cup news in our round-up.

David Kirk of New Zealand in 1987

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