You never know what France team will show up for any given rugby international.
The French’s unpredictability has been their downfall in several World Cups, but is has also seen them pull off a couple of stunning underdog victories over the years, such as a memorable 43-31 semi-final victory against tournament favourites New Zealand (epitomised by the fearsome Jonah Lomu) in 1999 at Twickenham.
But that stunning win, which ranks as the greatest ever World Cup match, exhausted the French and they were easily overpowered in the final, going down 35-12 against Australia.
It was a similar story back in 1987, when France upset the formbook to beat Australia 30-24 in the semi-final in Sydney, only to lose the final, 29-9 against hosts New Zealand.
Apart from two painful defeats in the final, France have reached the last four in all but one World Cup (they lost to England at the quarter-final stage in 1991, in Paris of all places), but they have yet to find the formula to going all the way. In 2011, they will be one of very few teams on the shortlist of potential winners, but where the French are concerned, transforming potential into silverware has proved an elusive feat on the world stage.
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