Referee slammed, Weepu punch claims: French media reacts

By Christopher Chang

Maxime Mermoz has claimed that All Black halfback Piri Weepu punched him. Photo / Getty Images
Maxime Mermoz has claimed that All Black halfback Piri Weepu punched him. Photo / Getty Images

There were mixed emotions from the French media after France's heartbreaking 8-7 loss to the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup last night.

Sport.fr reported that "The All Blacks realise their dream", despite the heroics of Marc Lievremont's side.

"For the first time at this World Cup, New Zealand was challenged. Never before had the All Blacks come so close to defeat. But France had come to die on the line, missing out on their first World Cup victory by a single point."

The French loss was devastating for former player Sébastien Chabal, who tweeted: "One point. I'm sick to my stomach." Another tweet read: "I don't know what to say. I'm gutted for my mates."

Eurosport's Emilie Dudon wrote "The Blues feel like they have been stolen from". Following the loss, referee Craig Joubert "is at the centre of all discussions".

"For French Fans, Mr Joubert should have given a penalty to the French during their period of domination in the second half. What do the blues think of this? Lots of thing," she wrote.

"However, it's not always the most deserving team that wins. The Blues know something about that."

In the article, Maxime Mermoz claimed: "I took a punch from Weepu in the right ear. I could no longer hear anything and now I still can't hear properly. And the referee did not blow his whistle."

Vincent Pere-Lahaille of L'Equipe paid tribute to the courage and passion of the French, but wrote that it wasn't enough. The players should leave with their heads held high, he said.

"It was said that this meeting would be special. Like their predecessors of 1999 and 2007, the Blues have responded to the cry of the war Kapa o Pango. Hands tied, forming a V for victory and united behind their captain Thierry Dusautoir... the so-called dirty kids distracted the heartbeats of Eden Park.

"The lyrics of the Ka Mate ("I die, I die. I live, I live") have never described the fate of the All Blacks this well. A population that is no longer in mourning."

Julien Bonnaire wanted to get his hands on a rare collectors item, according to Sports.fr - the Frenchman hoped to swap jerseys with Richie McCaw, but the All Blacks skipper refused.

"I went to see him in the locker room, but he said he only had one and wanted to keep it. The last time I asked him he didn't want to either since it was his 100th cap."

French Magazine Pure People took a jab at the New Zealand press for writing off the team before the match"

"By winning this match and hoisting the Webb Ellis Trophy, the New Zealand team wrote one of its most beautiful pages of rugby history on their very only soil. And yes, the French can have some regrets... Throughout the week preceding the game, the New Zealand press tried to destabilise a group that had been deemed incapable of winning the World Cup."

Former French international Philippe Sella told RadioSport today that France played the right style of game.

"[I am disappointed because are not world champions, but the French team played like we want to see them - with the ball in their hands ... with heart, with passion. It was a tight game," he said.

"In sport we need one winner always. It's the All Blacks, and the All Blacks, during all the tournament, they play well, they lost no game. They are a wonderful world champion.

"They win a lot of games since many years, and it is nice to see again the All Blacks with the Webb Ellis Cup.

"I'm disappointed for my French players but I am very happy for New Zealand."

- HERALD ONLINE

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