Brunel era ends with France blowing it

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Rugby World Cup in Japan: Wales v France

France suffered a one-point loss to Wales in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final

In the end, the answer to the question of which France would turn up at the Rugby World Cup was a bit of the team that plays rugby with flair and ambition but also a bit of the ill-disciplined rabble that can conjure defeat from the jaws of victory.

For 80 minutes of their matches in Japan, the French produced the brilliant running rugby that has given the game's showpiece event some of its greatest moments over the past four decades.

Unfortunately for Les Bleus, the purple patches came in the opening half of two matches and while they edged Argentina in the first, they were unable to hold onto a 19-10 lead in Sunday's quarter-final defeat to Wales.

Even when reduced to 14 men by the 49th-minute dismissal of lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for an elbow to the face of Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in Oita on Sunday, the French believed they should still have won.

They spurned opportunities to put points on the board from the kicking tee and ultimately went down 20-19 after a Wales try six minutes from time.

"The best team lost, but what's important is winning. So it makes no difference," replacement five-eighth Camille Lopez said.

"We were better than them. You tell yourself it's impossible to lose this match, but in the end, you lose it anyway.

"It's hugely frustrating, because it's a match we had in our grasp... We have to be killers, especially in a competition like this."

The defeat brought the curtain down on the two-year reign of coach Jacques Brunel, with 13 losses in 23 matches and confusion about where exactly Les Bleus stand in the world rugby's pecking order..

The 65-year-old oversaw two fourth-placed finishes in the Six Nations and a departure from the World Cup before the semi-finals for only the third time in nine tournaments.

The French host the World Cup in 2023, so the pressure to perform on home soil will be even greater.

Damian Penaud, Antoine Dupont and Gregory Alldritt have shown there is young talent in the French game and the task for new coach Fabien Galthie will be forging it into a team that can play for a full 80 minutes, in one match.

"It stops tonight but French rugby doesn't stop tonight," Lopez said.