France coach says "disappointing" Six Nations won't impact World Cup


Rome (AFP)

Coach Jacques Brunel insisted on Saturday that France's disappointing Six Nations campaign would have no impact on their World Cup in six months time.

The French claimed their second win of the tournament against a weakened Italy (25-14) after beating Scotland (27-10) earlier in the campaign.

"This tournament was a disappointment," said Brunel after his fifth success in 16 matches since taking over as France coach at the end of 2017.

"I said it from the beginning, the World Cup is a completely different competition, reduced to four decisive matches (in pools), history has shown it to us many times.

"We'll have time to sort out all the details where we haven't been good, we'll try to prepare ourselves accordingly."

The French avoided the ignomy of fifth defeat in the tournament for the first time since the Six Nations format in 2000 and avoided a first defeat to Italy since 2013.

"We didn't have reassuring performances, even disappointing. We are aware of this," said Brunel.

"Since the beginning of the tournament we weren't up to the level of the leaders. We were behind the top teams it's obvious.

"We knew that Italy was going to pile on the pressure from the start of the match.

"We would have liked a better controlled match, especially at the beginning. Unfortunately, we did not know how to do it, and we suffered to the end.

The French are desperate to avoid a first World Cup elimination in the group stage.

"Luckily we showed character until the very end. We want to build on this strength we had to resist."

- 'Emerging talents' -

The Italians have not won a Six Nations match since February 2015, a run of 22 consecutive defeats.

And they put the French under pressure until the final minute, highlighting both team's shortcomings six months before the World Cup in Japan from September 20 to November 2.

France benefited from Italy's errors with Tommaso Allan missing five points from a conversion and a penalty.

Tito Tebaldi scored in the 54th minute and, when a converted try would have put Italy in front late on, Marco Zanon lost the ball when over the tryline.

Damian Penaud then sealed France's win by going over in the 78th minute.

But Penaud and his teammates are far behind the top European and southern hemisphere nations - the Welsh came back to win 24-19 despite the French being 16 points clear at the break, England thrashed them 44-8 and they were overrun by Ireland (26-14).

"We've been too inconsistent, sometimes not good, bad ...," said Brunel.

"Like today, we've constantly alternated between lack of mastery and were at other moments dazzling.

"We will take away two things. First, the character we showed despite our inconstancy, especially today during difficult times. And the emergence of young talents.

"I am thinking in particular today of (fly-half) Romain Ntamack, who showed amazing qualities in his role, and (prop) Demba Bamba.

"They are 19 years old, 20 years old. And then there are veterans who are there. There are these young and old who are there, who want to supervise them, go with them."

Lock Felix Lambey added: "We won today but that won't make us world champions.

"We're under no illusions, we know we have work to do."