On the eve of the team announcement for their opening World Cup match against Japan on Saturday, September 10 at North Harbour Stadium, France's players unwinded by playing basketball.
With their opening Pool A game just days away, the players headed to the Akoranga campus of Auckland University of Technology to shoot some hoops. and although there were no Michael Jordans on show, a few of the players were no slouches, either.
Those who caught the eye were backs Aurélien Rougerie, whose mother is a former French basketball international, Maxime Mermoz, Cédric Heymans and Damien Traille, who hails from Pau, which is renowned for churning out basketball players.
France will be hoping their forwards impress more on the field than they did on court.
Led by Luc Ducalcon, they failed dismally. The exception was Pascal Papé, who finished as the leading scorer in a low-scoring display.
What was on show for all to see was how relaxed the squad appeared just days before kicking off their World Cup campaign.
Even the younger members of the squad, Morgan Parra and Raphael Lakafia, were cracking jokes and relishing the attention of a large contingent of female students.
One of them was Camille, the only French student on campus. "I study nutrition and health," she said. "I normally attend a school in Beauvais (near Paris) and when I was asked where I'd like to go on my compulsory year abroad, I picked Auckland because I knew that the Rugby World Cup would be there.
"When I heard that the French team were going to train here, I was over the moon. I've been told that if France beat New Zealand, I wouldn't be allowed to return here the next day. I think they fear us more than they want to admit it," she said.
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