Rassie Erasmus takes dig at France 'simulation' as World Cup mind games begin

Rassie Erasmus takes dig at France 'simulation' as World Cup mind games begin

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has subtly accused France of resorting to football-like tactics during games to try and influence match officials.

The two teams meet in a huge Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash on Sunday and Erasmus insists that his side will have to be wary of the French antics.

'Simulation' has long been an act of gamesmanship in the oval ball sport, as players try to influence the referees, but it has also been creeping into rugby.

And ahead of their World Cup tie, Erasmus has taken the step to directly accuse Les Bleus of taking such measures in an attempt to gain an advantage.

"I think the French are not playing a reckless game where they are on the edge of being too physical," he told reporters. "What they do well is that when they get close to the high hits, they really show that to the referee.

"They do simulate sometimes a little bit which is clever and obviously works. I think they're very clear at that, very good at that."

France lock Thibaud Flament was asked about Erasmus' claims and rejected the notion that there was anything cynical in their approach.

"It's not something I've really noticed. I think all teams seem to do it. It's not something we prepare specifically or try and do. I don't think it's something that characterises our play," Flament said.

France's clash with South Africa pits the second and third-ranked teams against each other in the last of this weekend's quarter-finals.

Les Bleus went through the pool stages with a perfect record, securing four successive victories, while the defending champions suffered one defeat against Ireland.

The hosts are slight favourites to end the Springboks' reign, but they have a fitness doubt over their star player, Antoine Dupont.

The scrumhalf sustained a fractured cheekbone during France's triumph over Namibia in their third group game.

Dupont has since had surgery and been cleared to resume training ahead of the last-eight tie.

That has boosted his chances of taking to the field this weekend and the Boks are expecting him to start in Paris on Sunday.

"I don't think lack of fitness will be a problem," Erasmus said. "I don't think I've ever actually seen him sweat on the field. He's so emotionless when he plays and he always looks so in control.

"Obviously he's the captain and the whole of France - the whole world - has respect for him. I've no doubt he will play and he'll be a big challenge for us."

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