Steve Deane: Reasons to hate the French

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They bake their bread in such a naughty shape.
They brag about their wine and worship the grape.
They criticise our food but then they eat loads of crepe.
That's why I hate the French.

- Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson sang a song about it, a couple of Poms wrote an exhaustive book about it, and even The Simpsons put the boot in.

French-baiting is practically a sport.

Why? Who knows? But as the opening lines of 50 Reasons to Hate the French says: "For all the magnificence of the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, for all the cultural joy of Debussy and Cezanne, for all the achievements of Joan of Arc and Napoleon, there just is something fishy about the French."

And they also have a nasty habit of beating us at our national game.

Reasons to hate the French

1.) THEY'RE RUBBISH

Since their first meeting in 1906, the All Blacks have played France 46 times, winning 34 times, losing 11 and drawing once. Over that span they have outscored the French 1122 points to 599 and scored 131 tries to 60.

Take that, Les Losers.

2.) ... EXCEPT WHEN THEY BEAT US IN WORLD CUPS

The mighty All Blacks hadn't lost to France for a month short of seven years before the 2007 World Cup quarterfinal disaster in Cardiff.

Just once in the previous six matches had the All Blacks failed to crack 40 points, while the Frenchies' biggest haul in those matches was 13.

Surely there was no way a team that lost its opening game to Argentina could repeat the heroics of the 1999 Les Bleus? Surely? Somebody click their fingers so we all wake up from this nightmare.

3.) THEY LIE ABOUT THEIR SEX LIVES

On average, the French claim to have sex 137 times a year - the most in the world. Clearly not many French marry then.

That number compares with the British, who claim to have sex just 119 times a year. There is no available data for Kiwis, who were either too busy shagging to answer the researchers' phone calls or too repressed to even discuss it. Take your pick.

4.) THEY'RE A BUNCH OF COQS

Honestly, since when is chicken a suitable emblem for national pride?

Actually, since the Middle Ages, if you believe the French. The Coq Gaulois is the ultimate symbol of French dickishness - haughty and proud but really not all that impressive.

Compare it to, say, our national symbol. A, er, bird that doesn't fly, is pretty much blind and is too cowardly to show its beak in daylight hours.

On second thoughts, let's not go there at all.

5.) THEY'RE RUDE

The "Paris Syndrome" is a medically recognised type of depression which afflicts foreign visitors. It's caused by the sustained rudeness of French people to outsiders. True, apparently.

6.) THE RAINBOW WARRIOR

That's how you repay us for mucking in to save your butts in WWI and WWII? Cheers.

7.) THEY'RE CHEESE-EATING SURRENDER MONKEYS

Groundskeeper Willie's (from The Simpsons) description of the French in the build-up to the Iraq war struck a chord with an American public dismayed by France's lack of support for the venture.

Apparently the French weren't convinced Saddam Hussein had WMDs, didn't believe he had links to al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism and didn't think the conflict could be easily won. More fool them.

8.) THEY MESSED WITH BUCK'S SAC

The French boot that ripped open Buck Shelford's scrotum in the Battle of Nantes is often described as "errant". But no one au fait with French forward play of that era would consider it anything other than accurately placed.

Then again, if the slipper had missed its mark, generations of New Zealand fathers wouldn't have been able to impress upon their sons the importance of shrugging off minor niggles by recounting the tale of the great man calmly instructing the team physio to sew his ball back in place so he could finish the match.

Reasons to love the French

1.) THEY'RE ACTUALLY NOT A BAD LOT

When they're not breaking this nation's heart, stomping on testicles or being rude, the French can be charming. Like the blokes some Kiwi tourists met in Paris before the 20-20 draw in 2002, who insisted the All Blacks fans help them drain a mini-keg on the street before ushering them into a bar and plying them with more beer.

Things got a bit tense when one of the French chaps pulled a knife, but it turned out it was just to chop up an enormous sausage on the bar for pre-match nibbles. Marvellous.

2.) THE 1999 AND 2007 WORLD CUPS

Honestly, if any country needs to have its massively-inflated rugby ego popped every now and then, it's New Zealand. We're not as good as we think we are and the French take it upon themselves to illuminate us. Cheers for the lesson. We got it this time. Honest.

3.) THEY HAD THE DECENCY TO BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT 2007

If any nation came close to matching the discontent New Zealanders felt about the performance of referee Wayne Barnes in Cardiff, it was France.

It was French TV journalists who first highlighted the 20-odd infringements their team got away with in the second half alone.

The sentiment coming out of France in the aftermath of the match seemed to be a mixture of delight at a surprise victory, sadness that a great All Blacks team had been eliminated, and a good dose of unease about the way it had happened.

4.) THE TRY FROM THE END OF THE WORLD

Alright, so it was actually only from just inside their 22 and Jonah Lomu was flapping about on the left wing looking like, well, the 18-year-old schoolboy he was.

And Stephen Bachop should have kicked the bleeding ball into row Z. And Christian Cullen used to score tries like that on his own on a weekly basis. But the try from you know where did serve to encapsulate all the things that are great about French rugby. You just never know what they are going to do. Vive la difference.

5.) THEY HATE THE ENGLISH EVEN MORE THAN US

My enemy's enemy is my friend, and all that. Now, New Zealand's dislike of all things English rugby doubtless stems from our little-brother colonial inferiority complex with a bit of reverse class prejudice and abhorrence of the 10-man kick-and-clap approach thrown in.

Putting that in perspective, the French have been at war with the auld English enemy on and off since 1066. One of those wars even lasted 113 years, although it has since been scaled back to 100 for ease of reference.

- NZ Herald

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