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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 18:36 GMT
Laporte set for Croke Park effect
Bernard Laporte
Laporte is well aware of Croke Park's history
France coach Bernard Laporte is confident his team will not be intimidated during the Six Nations clash at Croke Park, Dublin on Sunday.

It will be the first rugby union match to be played at the home of Gaelic sport, which holds 82,500 supporters.

Laporte said: "They will only face 15 Irishmen on the pitch.

"The game will be played in a stadium where the Irish rugby team wasn't allowed to play because of internal problems, their problems, not ours."

Croke Park normally plays host to Gaelic football and hurling and many have opposed using it for other sports.

SIX NATIONS BLOG
BBC Northern Ireland's Jim Stokes

But the Gaelic Athletic Association has agreed for the stadium to be used for both rugby and football while Lansdowne Road is being rebuilt.

"We heard a lot of things about this stadium," said France skipper Raphael Ibanez.

"We understand it was the cradle of Irish sport, the heart of Ireland in a way. An historic challenge is awaiting us at Croke Park.

"It will be a fantastic experience and that's why we are going there with our heads held high.

"We shall not be there to be one of the party, we'll be there to defend our flag, our virtues."

Full-back Clement Poitrenaud added: "We know the fervour of the Irish supporters.

"In front of more than 80,000 people, in a new stadium and in an historic context, the game should be played in an even more highly-charged atmosphere.

"I just hope that our performance will also turn it into an historic sporting occasion."


SEE ALSO
Winger Horgan makes speedy return
07 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
French make changes for Ireland
06 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations team guides
02 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations pundit predictions
02 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union


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