Bernard Laporte goes all Tony Soprano
Laporte went ballistic in a Wellington hotel foyer in 2007 when a meeting with ref Stuart Dickinson went pear-shaped. Brandishing a laptop with footage from previous French matches Dickinson had controlled, a belligerent Laporte threatened to "finish" the Aussie's career. The public outburst was witnessed by several people including a reporter. The French coach harangued Dickinson, accusing him of being biased against the French. He threatened that he could ensure Dickinson would not be appointed to any key matches in the World Cup in France later that year. "You will be finished," he raved. Dickinson lodged an official complaint, only for it to be swept under the carpet by the IRB.
Marc Lievremont becomes Mr Invisible
Lièvremont branded a section of his 2011 World Cup squad "spoilt brats" after he discovered some players went out to celebrate the semi-final win against Wales. About that time of the tournament in NZ, veteran back-rower Imanol Harinordoquy, who had earlier publicly criticised Lièvremont during the tournament for browbeating the team in the media, and other players revealed the team had rebelled against him after the pool stages, and had effectively managed themselves in the knockout rounds.
The Battle of Nantes
It's now New Zealand folklore. France's 16-3 win over the All Blacks at Nantes in 1986 will always be remembered as the test where Buck Shelford had his scrotum ripped open by a wayward French boot. All Blacks who played that day talk of the French being fired up physically and emotionally beyond any level ever seen. In fact, years on, a best-selling book was to allege the French were high on amphetamines. It's a claim Shelford agrees with.
"When I walked out the changing room and I stood beside them and their eyes were just huge ... it was like they had been on uppers for the last hour or so. They just looked like they were high as kites," Shelford said earlier this year.
The Try From the End of the Earth
How ironic that Philippe Saint-Andre, now feeling the wrath of his players as the current World Cup coach for France, was the man who started the famous "try from the end of the earth". Fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny ended the inspirational touchdown which helped France win in the last minute against the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1994. It remains the last time the All Blacks lost at their Auckland fortress. The ball was run 80 metres and sent from one side of the field to the other, stopping briefly for a lightning quick two-second ruck, and passing through nine sets of hands before Sadourny scored to seal a 23-20 win.