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Blwe_torch

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History: France stun the All Blacks
« on: September 04, 2007, 08:22:30 AM »

France stun the All Blacks
(Rugby News Service) Thursday 19 July 2007.
By Karen Bond




Christophe Lamaison scored 28 points against the All Blacks.

Twenty years have passed since New Zealand lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, a statistic that belies the talented players to have worn the famous jersey in the interim and the fact the All Blacks have been considered favourites for perhaps all of the tournaments since.

Never more so than in 1999 when they encountered France in the semi finals, a side that had not enjoyed the best of years with a Five Nations wooden spoon and run of six defeats in seven Tests leading into the tournament.

New Zealand were expected to reach a third final in four tournaments, a presumption few would have questioned when the All Blacks established a 24-10 lead with Jonah Lomu’s second try within five minutes of the restart.

France, though, are masters of the unexpected with the ability to seemingly turn on the flair with a flick of a button, a side never more dangerous than when their backs are to the wall and on the verge of crashing out of the World Cup.

Inner belief

“At half time we trailed but we were still hopeful. I remember telling the guys that I totally believed that we could do it, that we were close to doing something great, that it was within our grasp,” France captain and hooker Raphael Ibanez recalled.

It was a sentiment echoed by his fellow forward that October day at Twickenham, Abdel Benazzi: “We believed in our potential. The world may not have believed in us, but we thought ‘we have nothing to lose, we have to give everything’.”

Trailing the All Blacks by 14 points, France suddenly clicked and began to play some breathtaking rugby, the trusty boot of fly half Christophe Lamaison kick-starting the revival with a drop goal a mere two minutes after Lomu’s try.

That kick sparked a mesmerising turnaround with France scoring 31 unanswered points through the boot of Lamaison and tries by Christophe Dominici, Richard Dourthe and Philippe Bernat-Salles to leave the All Blacks and the crowd stunned.

Golden touch

“We were dominated in the first half, but we gave everything we had in the second and it’s true that at one point we felt that everything we would try would work,” admitted Benazzi, the towering French second row.

Unfortunately for New Zealand, Les Bleus had discovered their golden touch and the likes of Andrew Mehrtens, who had kicked four penalties and a conversion to that point, and Lomu could only watch as their World Cup dreams came crashing down again.

“The French decided to throw caution to the wind and see what happens … and it happened pretty well for them and the French are a dangerous team when they are in that sort of mood,” admitted Mehrtens.

Lomu, the Player of the Tournament four years earlier, added: “I guess that’s why they call it a game of two halves. Problem is we played a game of three quarters! And in the last quarter the French just opened up the floodgates and ran at us from everywhere.


A unique French resource

“It’s a tough pill to swallow when you lose like that, when you had the game in your hand and you see it slip away … but that’s rugby.”

That 43-31 victory – Jeff Wilson scored a consolation try for the All Blacks – was France’s second stunning performance in a semi final, but just as in 1987 they would have nothing left in the tank for the final … this time against Australia.

The whole of France will be hoping Les Bleus can go one better on home soil in 2007.

“I think the French players love challenges and love to be confronted with impossible situations,” said former coach Pierre Villepreux. “There was a special sort of French fury that allowed all the talents of the French team to be expressed and that is the way it should be, it’s a unique French resource that we need to make sure we retain always!”


http://en.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=1042134.html#france+stun+all+blacks
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 11:14:42 AM by Blwe_torch »
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pieterSAN

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Re: France stun the All Blacks
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2007, 10:15:35 AM »

Fantastic start for France. I wish I could catch some of it here.
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LOL....should have checked the date on that.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 10:20:38 AM by pieterSAN »
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Blwe_torch

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Re: France stun the All Blacks
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2007, 11:12:02 AM »

Fantastic start for France. I wish I could catch some of it here.
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LOL....should have checked the date on that.

 :)
Just rummaging thru some history....the real action will start in a couple of days.
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