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November 15, 2009

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Botched anthem adds to Boks' woes

SOUTH Africa accused France of failing to respect the world champion during the singing of its national anthem before Friday's international in Toulouse.

The Springboks were upset 13-20 by the French but were left fuming at the way their anthem had been played before the kickoff.

The man who sang the anthem, which is a hybrid mixture of five different languages, made a mess of the lyrics as sections of the crowd began to laugh during the playing.

Before commenting on his team's performance, Springboks coach Peter de Villiers told a news conference he was unhappy at the way their national anthem was played.

"Before I answer the first question I must first convey that we were annoyed by the fact the French did not respect our anthem. They did not really get somebody who knows it."

The South African captain Victor Matfield said the botched handling of the anthem had upset and disturbed his players.

On the field, France matched the Boks' physical power to secure their fourth straight home win over the world champions.

Helped by a stiff wind, South Africa was leading 13-11 at halftime thanks to a soft try scored by prop John Smit, with flyhalf Morne Steyn adding the conversion, a penalty and a drop goal.

However, the Boks struggled in the second half with the breeze in their face and paid the price for having Steyn and No. 8 Ryan Kankowksi sin-binned. France had a try by wing Vincent Clerc, four penalties from scrumhalf Julien Dupuy and one by his replacement Morgan Parra.

"It was really a very good evening. The most satisfying thing was our control of the game, physically and tactically," France coach Marc Lievremont said.

In Cardiff, Wales flirted with another upset defeat at the hands of Samoa before emerging with a 17-13 win on Friday.

Samoa, which upset the Welsh in the 1991 and 1999 World Cup, was playing them for the first time in nine years and stayed in the game largely due to the hosts' failure to make their dominance pay.

Wales started strongly with a try from Leigh Halfpenny, who later added a long-range penalty with young flyhalf Dan Biggar kicking nine points. However, an intercept try by center Seilala Mapusua and eight points from Fa'atonu Fili kept Samoa in it right to the whistle.


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