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Wallabies beat France? Pourquoi non?

Date

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."

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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