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Lievremont sticks to guns

FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont has given the same players who squeaked past Wales the chance to make history by beating New Zealand in Sunday’s final.

France laboured to a scrappy 9-8 win over a spirited Welsh team that played for more than one hour with 14 men in last Saturday’s semi-final, but Lievremont believes the same XV is good enough to become the first French team to win the World Cup.

“I didn’t really hesitate. It was fairly clear to me,” Lievremont said as he announced the team. The under-fire coach has delayed announcing his reserves bench until Friday.

France will be playing in their third final, having lost the inaugural decider to the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1987, and to Australia in Cardiff in 1999 – when Lievremont played his last match as a French international back-rower.

New Zealand beat France 37-17 in the pool stage of this tournament, also at Eden Park, and 13 players from that squad are in his starting line-up.

The French have knocked the All Blacks out of two World Cups – in the 1999 semi-final and the quarter-final four years ago.

“The problem with a lot of people is that they have serious holes in their memory,” he said.

“In 1999, apart from a very accomplished semi-final (against New Zealand), the French flair or the French spirit, as they say, was seriously missing – I should know, I was there.”

France: M Medard, V Clerc, A Rougerie, M Mermoz, A Palisson, M Parra, D Yachvili; I Harinordoquy, J Bonnaire, T Dusautoir (capt), L Nallet, P Pape, N Mas, W Servat, JB Poux.