MARCOUSSIS – France will have revenge on their minds when they host the Springboks in Paris on Saturday, according to captain Guilhem Guirado.
Back in June, they suffered a humbling 3-0 series defeat in South Africa, losing every match by more than 20 points.
Facing a side which had suffered the previous year their worst ever season, an abject France provided the Springboks with a much-needed confidence boost.
“There would be no point dissecting all the mistakes (made in June) because they’ve also progressed and changed some players, but we cannot allow ourselves not to make amends for those messed-up encounters,” said the 31-year-old Toulon hooker.
“That South African episode left its mark. For all those who were there, I can promise you, they will want revenge.”
France need to make double amends after also failing to turn up for the first 40 minutes of their 38-18 defeat to New Zealand last week.
Trailing 31-5 at halftime, the match was long gone before they salvaged some pride with a second period fightback.
“The game passed us by against New Zealand, even though we had the ball for the first four minutes,” added Guirado. “This time, we really expect to put in a huge first 20 minutes.
“On the one hand we need that, but we also must prevent the South Africans from playing to their strengths.”
That strength is often their ability to bash the ball up the middle through their hefty, powerful ball-carriers.
“Against New Zealand we were combative, but they displayed a level of effectiveness and pragmatism that did them justice,” said Guirado.
“We know we can’t rely only on that, but we know we’ll need it against the South Africans’ game.”
Another area in which France will need to improve is their scrum, in particular tighthead Rabah Slimani.
He spent a costly 10 minutes in the sin-bin against New Zealand after giving away three penalties at scrumtime.
And it was in the final six minutes of the first half, with France down to 14 men, that the game got away from them, conceding two converted tries to fall from 17-5 down to an insurmountable 31-5.
Slimani believes he’s treated unfairly, but vowed to try to changing his scrummaging style nonetheless.
“The referees saw (the penalties) one way, I another,” said the 28-year-old Clermont front-rower.
“In any case, we know very well that the referees are always right.
“It seems to me that I can’t play the way I would like to. In a rugby match, there are 30 guys to survey, not just one.
“It feels like since I’ve been on the international scene, I’m being asked every time to change something.
“I continue to try to be, as they say ‘clean’, and to be a good pupil towards the referees.
“I’m professional. I’ll overcome this and work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen on Saturday. It’s also up to me to work on that.”
He’ll have his work cut out for that, coming up against Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira at scrumtime.