French rugby fans in the Gallic home of the sport, Toulouse, have been lamenting the so-near-yet-so- far final defeat of Les Bleus by the All Blacks.
Just one solitary point in a low-scoring game made the difference; and if France had made more of their second-half surge, then who knows? But the All Blacks were destined not to be denied on their home soil. They are the World Champions, by 8-7. It was that close.
In the Toulouse hostelries there was a consensus; New Zealand had been the better team of the tournament, but France had played the better rugby in the final.
“You have to hand it to them, they didn’t steal their victory. Throughout the world cup New Zealand deserved to win, but in the final France deserved to win,” said one young male supporter.
Toulouse and its region provides around half of the players for the French national side, and every fan here will be charged up when the next final comes along in four years time.