France World Cup opener 'all or nothing´: Medard

Paris (AFP) –


Full-back Maxime Medard says France's opening Rugby World Cup game against Argentina will be 'an all or nothing match' if either side hope to reach the quarter-finals.

Medard, 32, won his 59th cap as Les Bleus ended their preparation for the competition with a convincing 47-19 victory over Italy on Friday.

They face the Pumas, 11th in the world, on September 21 before playing lower-ranked United States, Tonga and then finishing their pool stages against in-form England.

Only two sides from the group will advance to the last eight.

The Toulouse stalwart drew comparisons with the World Cup eight years ago when France opened up against weakest side Japan before sliding to a heavy defeat against New Zealand.

Argentina are far from a weak touch in 2019 but the pressure of winning that opening game remains the same.

"It's an all or nothing match. In 2011 we faced Japan similarly in our first match, even if we found it hard. We then conceded 40 points against the All Blacks," Medard said.

"We have to beat Argentina or England. If we can start with a win it's cool. I don't think it's going to be a 'final' but it will be knock-out, it's winner takes it all," he added.

Head coach Jacques Brunel names his final 31-man squad on Monday with six players missing out who have been part of the set-up during three warm-up Tests in August.

"Everyone worked hard, everyone trained, everyone sacrificed a lot and frankly it's a shame for some of them," Medard said.

"If we have a good World Cup it will be thanks to them also because it's a squad which has lived together. We told each other, we can't forget the guys who will have to stay at home," he added.

- Retirement rumours -

Medard is expected to be included in the squad for the tournament along with fellow 32-year-old and club team-mate Yoann Huget but denied they were planning to retire from Test rugby after the tournament.

"We have said nothing about our future in the blue shirt but certainly we live these moments in the blue shirt to the maximum," he said.

"Because we haven't got many of those left, we have to make the most of them," he added.

Medard, who is known for his thick dark sideburns, akin to fictional character Wolverine, jokily said he hopes to go one better after losing by a point to New Zealand in the 2011 final.

"World champion. I?m expecting to be world champion. No, really, I'm expecting to have an exceptional experience and go right to the end," he said.