PARIS, 9 October - Bernard Laporte's team are told to take heart from their footballing cousins' slow-burner heroics at their world cup last year, while suffering New Zealand fans are scraping the barrel to find any crumbs of comfort.
Slowly does it
France football captain Patrick Vieira sees parallels between the world cup path being taken by his country's rugby team and that which he and his round-ball Les Bleus took at the FIFA World Cup last year.
"We all know it is not important to be good for the first match but to reach your peak for the final," said the Internazionale and former Arsenal midfielder, referring to the football team's slow start - they drew with Switzerland and Korea - en route to the final against Italy.
"The French rugby team are like us at the 2006 World Cup," said Vieira. "They are getting stronger and stronger.
"Winning against a big team can change your fortunes - France dominated Ireland in a very important match, just like our 3-1 win against Spain in the second round of the world cup liberated us."
However, Vieira warned of a hangover from the quarter-final win over the All Blacks.
The football team struggled to beat Portugal 1-0 in the semi-final following the euphoria of their quarter-final victory over Brazil, he said. (And whisper it, but the French lost in the final to Italy.)
"When I see what happened in France in 1998 when we won (the football world cup), I really want the people to relive the hours and days of such great happiness," added Vieira.
The IRB received about three million hits on its website from desperate fans trying to get their hands on the 2000 tickets put on sale for Saturday's semi-final between France and England.
There is also a risk of some fierce trading on the black market with fans from Australia and New Zealand prepared to unload tickets to the match they thought would involve their respective teams.
However, the IRB has said not all tickets are transferable. "There is a risk they won't get entry," said spokesman Greg Thomas.
Always look on the bright side
Mourning Kiwis are being offered grains of solace in the wake of their heartbreaking world cup exit.
Taking the Monty Python mantra "always look on the bright side of life" as its theme, A New Zealand paper, under the headline 'It ain't all that bad', has offered some morsels of nourishment to ailing rugby fans.
These include: the All Blacks only lost by two points; they could have lost to Georgia; France could still lose in the semi-finals; and France have never won an Oscar for best picture.
50 million - the amount in NZ dollars reportedly invested in the All Blacks world cup campaign.
Quote of the day
"There are some battered bodies but you recover quicker following a win."
- France team manager Jo Maso on the physical condition of the players after the quarter-final win over New Zealand.