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Wallabies beat France? Pourquoi non?


Georgina Robinson, Paris

Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps.

Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps. Photo: Getty Images

Australia had its "Samoa moment" and France its "Tonga moment" — games each nation was expected to romp-in but did not, to the vocal dismay of supporters at home.

But the French have amassed enough "Tonga moments" to have acquired a reputation for infuriating fluctuations, the Rugby World Cup being the best example.

They stuttered in the pool stage, losing to Tonga in their final game, scraped through the semi-final by the smallest possible margin, then went within a point of the most audacious of upsets against the All Blacks in the final.

It was a characteristic put to the Wallabies' young halfback Nick Phipps in Paris on Tuesday. "Sometimes it doesn't make sense even for us. Does it make sense for you?" one perplexed French journalist asked.

Mais oui, bien sûr, Henri! Of course the Wallabies understand.

"Everyone has their off games, we've had a few — Scotland, Samoa in the last few years," Phipps replied.

"But the best thing about France is that they really lift for the occasion. When they're playing the big teams they really rise to the occasion, so they're going to be quite difficult I think. They had a little mishap against Tonga, but every time they play us they've always given us a big challenge."

The Wallabies lack the emotional-roller-coaster quality of the French at their best and worst, but this group of players knows all too well the battle for consistency.

This tour is the Wallabies' best shot at it yet. Four Tests, played by the closest thing to a settled playing group, off the back of two confidence-boosting Tests against Argentina and New Zealand.

There are particular challenges the northern hemisphere presents a group this young, including cold weather, late games, big European packs and, with the exception of Wales, a high degree of unfamiliarity.

Injury niggles persist, with starting lock Sitaleki Timani looking less and less likely to feature this weekend. Prop Ben Alexander is in the same boat with a wrist injury, as are flanker David Pocock and seasoned winger Digby Ioane. Stephen Moore is the only one of the returning players who may actually make it this week.

But there is no doubt that the Wallabies camped on the fringe of Paris's famous Latin Quarter this week have had a sniff of something resembling a workable — dare anyone say winning? — formula.

They have been tested to their limits of adaptability and resilience over the past few months and the interim results have borne quiet confidence.

"It was funny today, we had a gym session this morning and everyone was sort of bouncing out of their skin," Phipps said of the side's quick recovery from the long-haul travel.

"There's a really good mood around the camp, but we're definitely aware of the big task we have [ahead of] us this weekend against the French."

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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