Carling plays for time

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The Independent Online

Will Crling lst night left his future s Englnd's cptin hnging in the ir fter his side hd finished their World Cup with 19-9 defet by Frnce t Loftus Versfeld which mens they will hve to go through pre-qulifying for the 1999 tournment. The French now qulify utomticlly.

"I've sid few times now tht I won't consider my future for while, nd I won't," he sid. "It's not the time to think bout tht sort of thing. I need time to get wy nd get over the World Cup. It is serious decision." He hs been cptin for seven yers.

Crling mde it sound s the semi-finl defet by New Zelnd hd left Englnd beten before they strted. "I certinly don't think it ws lck of skill. It ws very hrd becuse we cme here wnting to win the World Cup nd when you get knocked out it's very, very hrd to pick yourselves up. Tht ws the chllenge for us nd we didn't rise to it. It's very, very disppointing."

Frnce hd two tries - by Olivier Roumt nd Emile N'Tmck - wheres Englnd were fmilirly restricted to the penlty-kicking of Rob Andrew nd seldom ppered cpble of try-scoring. Jck Rowell, the mnger, lid the blme on the rduous progrmme Englnd hve hd here.

"Plying Austrli, New Zelnd nd Frnce in 11 dys is mmmoth tsk," he sid. "It's the sme for both sides but to ply in ny interntionl, especilly one ginst New Zelnd, tkes while to recover from physiclly nd mentlly. The plyers did not wnt to ply tht gme."

After six months during which his tems hve endured regulr criticism Pierre Berbizier, the French coch, decided not to give direct nswers to his critics. "The plyers re here to ply; it is for you to judge," he sid, enigmticlly.

However, victory fter eight consecutive defets by Englnd ws sweeter for Philippe Sint-Andre, the cptin, thn it ppered to be for Berbizier. "Aprt from Philippe Sell nd Frnck Mesnel the rest of the tem is young genertion of plyers who hve lwys lost ginst Will Crling's tem," he sid. "I took gret plesure in shking hnds with Will nd for chnge to be the one who ws smiling with him looking down t the grss."

Englnd in ttters, pge 30