Yachvili urges France team to get back to basics
Updated: October 05, 2011, 02:58
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili knows it'll be challenging to focus on the fine details and show more passion at the same time, but thinks that's the only way France can beat England in the World Cup quarterfinals.
England has beaten France in the last two World Cup semifinals, and won at Twickenham during this year's Six Nations Championship, when the French relinquished the title won so impressively the previous season.
Despite topping its pool with four consecutive wins, England's abrasive, brutal style of rugby has won it few fans. But the 31-year-old Yachvili can see the value in it.
"We are always impressed by the English, because they always do the basics right. Big scrum, very good lineout, good in defense,'' Yachvili said Wednesday. "We respect this team a lot because they've conceded just one try since the beginning of the World Cup.''
By comparison, France has conceded sloppy tries against Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Tonga, with its midfield blown apart by the All Blacks and its defense bullied in last weekend's upset loss to Tonga.
"We have a revenge to take on ourselves,'' Yachvili said, reflecting on the team's poor form so far. "We have to put our heart into everything we do, because our hearts weren't in it last weekend.''
France has been trying to rediscover its creative spark, but that has only increased the error-count as missed passes and dropped balls have become all too common among the normally assured French backs.
"We have to get back to basics,'' Yachvili said. "We were still thinking (too much) about our game, now we have to stop thinking. If we're ready to bleed for 80 minutes our game will take care of itself.
"If we play the same way we played last week we can't win against England. It's going to be very hard but on Saturday it will be a different (France) team than last week,'' he added. "If we win this match, it will wipe away the Tonga defeat, but our objective is to go as far as possible, not that this is our last game of the World Cup this weekend.''
England is notoriously hard to beat in knockout rugby.
At the 2007 World Cup, England was thrashed 36-0 by South Africa, then struggled against the United States, but still reached the final - dumping the French out of the last four stage despite trailing at halftime.
In 2003, England also fell behind to an early converted try from flanker Serge Betsen but then responded with 24 unanswered points from flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson.
"In the hard, important (World Cup) games, they are better than us. We respect this team,'' Yachvili said. "During the quarterfinal, semifinal and the final, the most important thing is the basics. The English are maybe the best in the world at the basics. That's why we've been working a lot on the basics this week in training.''
England has struggled to get the better of teams during the pool stage, relying on late surges to edge Argentina and Scotland. Martin Johnson's team was also contained by Georgia at halftime before pulling away.
For France to trouble the English, gaining an early control in the scrum is crucial.
"If our forwards are better, then I think we can win against England,'' Yachvili said, adding that he expects Wilkinson will rediscover his kicking touch if he overcomes a nagging injury to his arm.
After the completion of the pool stage, Wilkinson's 45 percent success rate is the third lowest of all the leading place kickers at the tournament.
"A goalkicker like Wilkinson will be ready on Saturday,'' Yachvili said.