Galthie feels the joy as France prepare for World Cup


Love. Light. Invisible force.

France coach Fabien Galthie went all existential about his and his team's approach to facing New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup blockbuster.

The massive opening night game on Friday features a New Zealand team bidding for a record fourth world title against a spectacular France side gunning for its first after losing three finals.

When he named his team on Wednesday, Galthie cast aside talk about tactics and how to negate the attacking prowess of the All Blacks.

Instead, he spoke about freeing up the love among his players while encouraging them to harness unseen energies.

"This match will be a party, a joy, an immense happiness, it's marvellous. An invisible force needs to be born in these moments," Galthie said.

"The watchword is to play, to enjoy ourselves, to love each other a lot. We're feeling very light, very happy to play this game."

Feeling light is not to be confused with taking the All Blacks lightly, something Galthie would never do. With hype around France sky-high, he has been trying to help the players from not feeling overwhelmed by the occasion.

"This match against the All Blacks is a challenge in every part of rugby," he said. "You need to control the emotions that surround these events. We've prepared to be the best we possibly can be in this area."

Those preparations include the warm-up before the match. Constraints put on the teams by the World Cup opening ceremony have shortened the usual amount of time they have on the field.

"World Rugby have given us 23 minutes to prepare," Galthie said. "Against Australia we did a practice for it; we warmed up in 22 minutes."

France won that final World Cup tune-up by an eye-catching 41-17. Thousands of fans remained at their seats at the Stade de France long after the final whistle to applaud a France team which did a lap of honour led by captain Antoine Dupont, widely regarded as the world's best player.

"We all have the responsibility to do something big at this World Cup. I'm the captain so maybe people talk about me more, but we all have this ferocious will to write our names (in history)," Dupont said.

"We've given people hope with the results we've had. People are expecting things from us and they want to see us raising the trophy."

Galthie was the Dupont of his 1990s heyday, a brilliant scrum-half and captain who became a highly-rated club coach. He met Dupont a few years ago and was blown away by Dupont scribbling notes and drawing tactics for two hours while they chatted.

Not one to be overawed, then, but Dupont knows that much of the nation's hopes rest with him.

"We can feel this fervour and excitement rising, but I don't feel there is any negative pressure in this team and that's a good thing," he said.

Dupont, who'll earn his 50th cap, was a teen in 2011 when France last reached the World Cup final. The All Blacks prevailed in that one at Eden Park.

"When I was young I admired this team," he said of their opponents. "It's the best team to face, one that has made generations and generations dream."