Who would have thought it? France were beaten twice in their rugby world cup pool, once by New Zealand and once, humiliatingly, by Tonga. Then they beat a lacklustre England to go through to the semi-final, where they won against a fourteen-man Wales by just one point. Improbable finalists, they headed to Eden Park as underdogs and favourites to lose by a large margin to the hosts, the All Blacks, who had already beaten them 37-17 in their pool match. But one of the most┬ádistinctive aspects of the French rugby team is their romantically mercurial nature. You simply never know which France is going to turn up on the day. Today, France played their hearts out and were just one agonising point away from an extraordinary upset. In the end, they lost 8-9, the difference down to a try conversion against a penalty. French captain and try-scorer Thierry Dusautoir summed it up afterwards; “We have been criticised, but today we were strong and we showed that rugby is not just skills… it is also mental,” he said, adding with a smile, “although perhaps today we needed more skills”. He continued: “Tonight, everybody was nervous… them and us. There were 30 guys on the pitch and I think they were all scared. “We rode our luck as best we could but we failed by one point.” The way France started to dominate in the second half was a wonderful illustration of what can be done in sport when self-belief is strong. All-in-all, this has been a very entertaining world cup, with some great rugby on show. Now normal sleep patterns may be resumed.