I am so proud of my team-mates for the way we played in the World Cup final.
We showed pride in our jersey and incredible team spirit. Clearly we’re disappointed to lose by one point but we have to pay tribute to the All Blacks, who deserved to win. They played some really great rugby, not just in the final. They’re the best in the world.
We showed the best of French rugby in that final. We played with our heart and it almost took us to victory. People doubted us when we lost to Tonga in the pool stage but we kept our focus and solidarity. For us, there were two World Cups in one – one for the pool stage and one for the knockout matches.
After the Tonga game we had a big meeting and told the coaches we were lost with the game plan. So we decided to go back to basics, get the simple things right. That allowed us to come back. And as we received a lot of criticism from everybody, we said, ‘We are a family.’ We stayed united, and even though everyone thought we’d lose by 30 points in the final, we told ourselves, ‘Is there any risk for us? No. Let’s play.’
We had a number of important leaders – our captain Thierry Dusautoir, Lionel Nallet, and Morgan Parra – who helped galvanise us during the knockout stages. Morgan was one of seven leading fly-halves to be injured at RWC 2011. Incredible!
Many people will remember the final for the way we responded to the haka. We wanted to start the game during the haka and it showed our intent. We wanted to put them under pressure, show them how hard it would be to beat us.
When we were closest to them, we saw in their eyes that they were very surprised (France were fined £2,500 for moving in too close). But when you do this, you have to be excellent afterwards – and I think we were.
Before the final we resolved that we would give everything, so we would have no regrets. I believe we did that. In the changing room after the final there were some laughs, many tears, and deep words between men who appreciate each other.
There was an amazing atmosphere in New Zealand and I will have fond memories of the 2011 World Cup. New Zealand is a country of rugby and it was our dream to play a World Cup final against the All Blacks at Eden Park.
And the future for me? Well, I’m 31 but I want to stay at the top with Les Bleus and build on what we’ve done in 2011.
This article appeared in the December 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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