Damian de Allende: ‘People forget what France did to host the World Cup’

Jared Wright
Springboks centre Damian de Allende in action against France during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Springboks centre Damian de Allende in action against France during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Springboks centre Damian de Allende has no sympathy for France after South Africa knocked Les Bleus out of their home Rugby World Cup in 2023.

De Allende says that he does not ‘feel sorry’ for France at all after they failed to win the World Cup for the first time despite heading into their home tournament as one of the favourites to clinch the title.

Instead, it was the defending champions, South Africa, who knocked the hosts out of the tournament, claiming a 29-28 victory over Les Bleus in what was dubbed one of the greatest Test matches of all time.

Toughest game of the World Cup

The quarter-final clash against France ranked as De Allende’s most challenging game of the tournament, but the centre credited Rassie Erasmus’ relentless preparation as a deciding factor.

In the Chasing the Sun 2 documentary series, Erasmus is shown using a loudspeaker to blast the French national anthem at the players throughout the week to get them used to the noise of the French crowds.

“For me, the toughest game was definitely, definitely France. I’ve been to Argentina a few times and that gets rowdy. It’s like football fans and the stadiums are bouncing and it feels like an earthquake in the stadium, that’s how loud it gets in Argentina,” De Allende explained in a Rugby Pass TV interview.

“But the noise in Marseille in 2022 against France. I’ve never heard anything like that.

“The way Rassie prepared us for that France game in the quarter-finals with the speakers… I don’t remember hearing the French national anthem during that game because of how many times I heard it during the week. That was his mindset and his process to prepare us.

“France played f*****g well in that quarter-final and a lot of people say they deserved to go through, but his whole mindset was to make sure we don’t get lost [in the moment] when they do something brilliant and the crowd goes nuts and it worked.

“I have never worked with another coach that has gone that far in terms of out-of-the-box thinking to win a Test match, and Rassie always comes up with something like that, and it feels like he is always one step ahead.”

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Why De Allende does not feel sorry for France

While Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi admitted that he felt bad for the French players and fans after they were dumped out of the tournament, De Allende did not have the same sympathy.

The 32-year-old explained that he was still not pleased with the manner in which France were granted the hosting rights of the tournament, despite South Africa being selected by the World Rugby Board as the preferred host.

“I didn’t feel sorry for them,” he explained.

“I don’t feel sorry for them because of the way the World Cup bid went and how it was taken away from us as South Africa.

“For me, it was just a bit more personal – for all of us – once we understood what actually happened [with the bidding process] and Rassie explained what actually happened – it gave us a bit of an edge for the quarter-final.

“We haven’t hosted a World Cup since 1995, and I don’t know when we will host another World Cup in South Africa, but 2023 was probably our best chance, and it felt like it was in our hands and then just got taken away from us.

“Rassie brought it up, and it’s hard because sometimes you read things [in the press], and it’s always made out to be that we are the bad guys, but people forget what France did to host the World Cup again.

“So yeah, I don’t feel sorry for them, it’s sport. It’s tough losing by one point, especially in a quarter-final final at home, but it is what it is.”

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2023 World Cup bidding process

The process of determining who would host the 2023 World Cup was marred with controversy, with Ireland also losing out along with South Africa.

It is believed that Scotland voted for France and Wales for South Africa, a decision that did not sit well with the Irish bosses. Meanwhile, Rugby Africa reportedly gave their two votes to France with South Africa getting their 13 votes from Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Oceania.

World Rugby has since moved to disclose the votes for future tournaments, dropping the secret ballot.

READ MORE: Damian de Allende expecting a ‘war’ with Ireland after media ‘disrespected’ the Springboks