On the 23rd of October 2011, New Zealand finally overcame the immense pressure to win a World Cup final. Somehow they did it without the best player on the pitch. Thierry Dusautoir was a man-mountain for France that day, and was deservedly given the World player of the year title.
Since that day, the only French rugby player to play at a consistent level for his national side has been Dusautoir. France have dropped significantly from their heights of the 00's, and the swashbucking style turned into the famous question of "Which French side would turn up?". In the last two years, that's been replaced by a very poor French team.
The French have been a victim of the Top 14. The over-physical style of play works in the French league, but it means that the national side doesn't have the out-of-this-world improvisation skills that most would associate with Les Bleus. It also doesn't help that French players are being pushed out of the top clubs in France because of the influx of foreign players. It's exactly like the English team with the Premier League.
But through it all, if Theirry Dusautoir was in their team they had a chance. Now that Dusautoir has announced his retirement from international rugby - France are set to drop further into the mire. With Scotland looking promising under Vern Cotter - France could be battling against Italy to avoid the wooden spoon for the next few years.
It's interesting to note that Dusautoir, at aged 34, leaves France just as his former Toulouse head coach Guy Noves takes over.
Dusautoir will continue to play for Toulouse, and ends his France career after captaining his country in 56 of his 80 caps.
Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE