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Northern pride restored - Chabal
7 October 2007 17:10pm
Sebastien Chabal believes the forthcoming World Cup semi-final between France and England has restored credibility to Six Nations rugby.
With England beating Australia earlier in the day, it means neither Australia or New Zealand will figure in the semi-finals for the first time in the tournament's history.
"These results are very pleasing for the northern hemisphere," said Sale Sharks lock Chabal.
"It's good for the Six Nations to have two teams in the semi-finals, especially as we beat such strong sides to get there.
"Before yesterday no-one thought a semi-final between France and England was possible.
"It's always good to win against the All Blacks but especially in a quarter-final and in Cardiff. It wasn't an easy game.
"Now we have to recover and prepare for the match against England."
Chabal fired the first shots in the phoney war ahead of Saturday's mouth-watering showdown in Paris by claiming England will be expected to triumph.
"I don't think we'll be favourites against England because they beat Australia and they played very well in the process," he said.
"We always keep our feet on the ground and we will prepare for the next match with our feet on the ground."
Few will be fooled by Chabal's eagerness to concede England's superiority after France produced a stellar display to edge the 1/7 favourites.
Once Les Bleus had decided a 13-0 point deficit was enough of a handicap and shelved the kicking tactics that played to New Zealand's strengths, they were the dominant force.
Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion crossed with Lionel Beauxis and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde kicking the rest of the points in a sensational fightback.
France set a belligerent tone for the heroic defensive display to come when they greeted the Haka eyeball-to-eyeball wearing red, white and blue t-shirts.
Captain and Wasps hooker Raphael Ibanez revealed the show of national pride was not intended as a slight to the All Blacks.
"To wear the colours was a decision we took two or three days ago. It was made by all the players," he said.
"We weren't trying to indulge in provocation, we have respect for the Haka and New Zealand tradition."
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