April 14, 2024

The French national team is the victim of a huge scam

Opponents of Les Bleus in the quarter-finals, the Springboks essentially bring back bad memories for the XV de France. This is particularly true of the only opposition between the two teams at the 1995 World Cup. Pierre Berbizier’s men narrowly lost (19-15) to the hosts in the semi-finals, after a match played two hours late and in disastrous conditions due to the rain, and marke…

Opponents of Les Bleus in the quarter-finals, the Springboks essentially bring back bad memories for the XV de France. This is particularly true of the only opposition between the two teams at the 1995 World Cup. Pierre Berbizier’s men narrowly lost (19-15) to the hosts in the semi-finals, after a match played two hours late and in disastrous conditions due to the rain, and marked by several dubious refereeing decisions.

The best example was the disallowed try in the dying moments of the match. After a devastating charge, Abdelatif Bennazi flattened the ball on the line. Or rather, what’s left of it, given the puddle of water there. Derek Bevan decided not to award the try, however, before receiving a gold watch from the President of the South African Football Association at the post-match reception. Enough to provoker the anger of Pierre Berbizier. A quarter of a century later, the former scrum-half still hasn’t digested it.

One of the biggest swindles in the history of sport

It’s huge that Invictus is being celebrated in France when we know that it’s probably one of the biggest swindles in the history of sport, he said when the film Invictus was released, making some heavy accusations: The day before the match, half a dozen (French) players were at the Immodium. Given that we’d only lost by four points, the South Africans said to themselves: ‘For the final, it’ll be the whole New Zealand delegation’. The day before the final, they did the whole course several times: toilets – rooms.

Abdelatif Benazzi immediately accepted this injustice. I’ve accepted that this World Cup is about more than sport, he told L’Equipe, adding: In two years, this World Cup has sorted out a lot of things. But not everything, of course. Not all of it. But today, when I look at the Springboks, when I see their black captain (Siya Kolisi, editor’s note) who is so sunny, I tell myself that 1995 has something to do with it.

During the final, we were at the stadium, he recalls. I shed tears. Nelson Mandela’s entrance, Pienaar, who is very Afrikaner after all, saying that it was the victory of 42 million South Africans, white people kissing black people in front of me in the stands. In 1995, I lost in sporting terms, but I won in human terms. It was a magical moment. But at what price…