Parra welcomes tough French boot camp
France coach Mark Lievremont has followed the example of England under Clive Woodward and Rudolph Straeuli’s Springboks by sending his initial World Cup squad into the great outdoors.
While Woodward sent his team to train with the Royal Marines and Straeuli controversially instigated “Camp Steel Wire” before the 2003 World Cup, the French players have been engaging in some outward bound team-bonding.
“I feel crap but it is something we are happy to have done,” admitted scrum-half Morgan Parra, who has proved an adept kicker for France since making his debut in 2008.
“It’s been very hard at times but it strengthens the group. At times, I wanted to scream, I wanted to let it all go.
“The hardest part? The night. We slept badly, very badly. We are not used to sleeping so close to each other in tents. Between the ones who were snoring and the others who were moving around, it was hell.”
However the Clermont number nine, who will be vying for the half-back jersey with Dimitri Yachvili, said that the experience had been good for the squad.
“The fact of living together on a daily basis to meet, to be at the table to discuss the activities we did together, all this inevitably brings the squad closer.
“Now, there will always be more affinity with some players than with others but we saw during the activities that no one was ever left on their own, everyone waited for him. In training it is the same.”
After an abrasive season of rugby both for France and for their clubs, the French players are also getting back into throwing around a rugby ball. But at the back of their minds lies September 10, the day they kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan, although Parra insists that is still a long way off.
“We talk a little bit about it but there is still a lot of time,” said Parra.
“We are preparing physically but we haven’t really had time to think about it, not even the friendly matches against Ireland. Instead we are just trying to be well prepared.”
Parra’s tentmate for the camp was none other than his rival for the number nine jersey, Yachvili, but Parra welcomed the pairing.
“We need competition to push the squad to a higher level. But in these kinds of activities, you are helping each other and not looking at positions on the field.
“We know that this is the group that will leave for the World Cup and everyone will stick together, even if you do not play. It is vital to retain this good mood, this friendliness, this desire we have right now to succeed.
“For myself, I want to live my first World Cup as well as I can, make the most of it on the field and off it.
“It is true that as a player, you want the number one spot but the first matches are still a long way off.”
France, beaten finalists in 1987 and 1999, are in Pool A with hosts New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Tonga.