That France lost that game, 37-17, was not due to any aberrations on the part
of the fledgling partnership. France have not exactly had critics purring
with delight since then, but the half-backs have made decent progress. That
they have found each other to be on similar wavelengths has surprised even
“When you’re both going for the same shirt, you tend to speak less, to even
have a negative view of the other one,” said Parra, 22, the younger of the
two by nine years.
Parra has done terrific things for Clermont Auvergne over the last couple of
years, helping steer them to their first domestic title after plenty of
heartache. He has shown himself to be a classic modern-day scrum-half:
sharp-minded and decisive, blessed, too, with a turn of speed, qualities
that Lièvremont felt could be deployed in the wider channel.
Yachvili’s forte is his ability to turn and torment teams with his
box-kicking, a trademark skill that was enough to win him the nod in his
preferred position. Parra is considered more versatile. Yachvili, one of the
senior figures in the group, recognised that he needed to help his one-time
rival get the best out of himself.
“We have learnt to know each other, to open up,” Yachvili said. “These are
things we ought to have done before. Morgan is a mature guy. He reminds me
of myself at that age.”
Attack coach Emile Ntamack has been impressed by the way in which they have
knuckled down to the task.
“Their relationship has been reinforced,” the former France wing said. “They
feed off each other. Their complicity has come about because they realise
that they have to do well for the team first and foremost. That element of
competitiveness, which used to be there between them as individuals, is now
channelled in a different direction. They are intent on making each other a
better player for the good of the team.”
Yachvili revealed yesterday that the team had simplified their approach in the
knockout stages after the abrupt reverse against Tonga in the group stage.
“Our game plan was no good at the beginning,” Yachvili said. “We were asking
too many questions of ourselves. We have gone back to basics. It has helped
between myself and Morgan. We speak a lot, work hard and it’s all got better
It will need to be at its optimum if the All Blacks are to be beaten.