Favorites and favorites of our distinguished correspondents

Favorites and favorites of our distinguished correspondents

Find out who were the happiest and least happy of our three rugby specialists at the Stade de France during the Blues’ opening World Cup win over the All Blacks (27-13).


Blues wise like the pictures

The number is definitely a record. The French players conceded just four penalties on Friday night against the All Blacks. Quite a few of the offenders who were penalized by South African referee Jaco Bieber: François Cros, Thibaut Flament, Jabin Villiers and Mathieu Jalibert. Even adding a free kick, this is still well above what is usually considered a high-level international version (8 fouls). Compare that to the 12 penalties the New Zealanders were awarded and the yellow card given to winger Will Jordan for a mid-air tackle on Thomas Ramos. ““I don’t think we were too undisciplined,” coach Ian Foster said. The French got some penalties from us, but we knew they would be good in this area. We must give credit to France for exerting these pressures. As for Will (Jordan), he was a bit clumsy in two aerial operations, and the second one did not help us. The yellow card came at a bad time and France knew how to take advantage of it, but we were very disciplined in the first half.» Fabian had two companions in heaven. “Discipline has been an essential sector. He allowed Thomas Ramos to keep us on our feet.»

All blacks Can Thank Tilia

Light in the shadow. The light in the darkness of all black people. Not the most experienced (26 years, six caps), not the most famous, but certainly the standout at the Stade de France. If everyone’s eyes were on Will Jordan, his counterpart on the right, who got through the game, it was Mark Tilia who delighted his people. The Auckland winger finished off the Men in Black’s opening move perfectly with a corner effort after 92 seconds of play, the fastest attempt in history for a World Cup opener. Mark Tilia even scored twice after returning from the locker room (43rd), although a final pass was marred by the big striker. But the referee did not want to use the video… his fourth attempt and fifth in six matches in a Ferns shirt. And the statistics make you dizzy: 114 meters gained, nine crossings. New Zealand has found a new strongman.

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Mufaka, made no. 1

Julien Marchand’s injury is a huge blow to the French XV. But with Beto Mufaka, the Blues still have a world-class hooker, far more than just a simple replacement. Coming on in the 12th minute of play, the Toulouse player produced a tremendous performance against the All Blacks. Impressive activity, consistent dynamics for XXL performance. Up against their New Zealand neighbours, the New Caledonia side of Wallis and Futuna knows how to outdo themselves. Two years ago, he already scored a great brace. And this Friday, he impressed again at the Stade de France. “We are never prepared to go into a game too early,” he said afterwards. It was a rather special match for me: there was my family, my mother, in the stands. I tried to switch quickly. With adrenaline, you forget about being tired a little bit. From now on, he’ll be wearing the No. 1 heel uniform. But after the match he just had, there’s no need to worry. Even if he realizes the Blues can still progress. “At the end of the first half, Fabien (Galthée) pulled our ears. We were in a little trouble, we couldn’t get out of the trap. We knew we had to stay calm, and it was going to pay off in the end. And brilliantly. In the eyes of the whole world.

The Hakka is authentic, but it is not enough

Before the match, the question was what haka the Blues would be entitled to in this first World Cup match. The All Blacks chose to perform “Kapa O Pango”, which is more warlike and reserved for the big matches, the ones that matter. The authenticity came from the fact that half Aaron Smith who led this warrior dance held a traditional paddle in his hands, which was very unusual. The Tahiti Museum notes that this ceremonial paddle is called a “shovel” in Polynesian. And to specify:The ceremonial paddle appears to have been used as a “dancing paddle” during ceremonies, or as a symbol of authority assigned to chiefs, with the aim of symbolically guiding the canoe or group.» Clearly, New Zealanders wanted to celebrate the occasion. On the other hand, the Blues remained negative. Cool and determined, they defeated the three-time world champions (1987, 2011, 2015) for the first time in the group stage.

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Aaron Smith leads the haka with a traditional Polynesian paddle. Anne-Christine Pujolat/AFP

Claw strikes

Black Series

So the Springboks’ historic defeat at the end of August was not just anecdotal. In the wake of the heaviest defeat in their history (35-7), the All Blacks suffered their first World Cup group stage setback. Disappointment confirms that New Zealanders are at the bottom of the wave. With an ultimately fruitless game (lots of kicks!) despite some rare blips, unusual hand fouls and certainly confidence at half mast. Once again, coach Ian Foster wanted to be positive. To the best of their ability. “We were efficient but they were able to confront us. We will have to improve on certain levels. We have to be smarter. We gave them a lot of chances.” And leave: “This doesn’t change anything for the future, we are still motivated and our goal is always to win the World Cup…” A lot of people don’t believe it. For only the fourth time in their history, the All Blacks have suffered two consecutive defeats to the Blues, following 1973-77, 1994-95 (3 wins) and 2007-09. Evidence that evil runs deep. And that the French and New Zealand dynamics have reversed.

The French defense is in tatters

This has been a recurring problem for the Blues since the start of the year. 70% more attempts were conceded than in 2022. On Friday evening, Marc Thalia managed to score twice and Damien Benaud’s rough defensive positioning is no stranger to that. Against the All Blacks, the Blues gave up 32 tackles (17 in the first half, 15 in the second half). For a success rate of 81% in this exercise, while they were accustomed to exceeding 90% of successful interventions. The three-quarter line was particularly wrong in this exercise with Jalibert 6, Penaud 5, Movana’s 3 and also 3 for Fico (but a successful 14 for the French defense captain). “Maybe we were a little nervoustries to understand François Cros, who, contrary to his reputation as a tackler, also missed 3 tackles. We didn’t really go looking for them on defense. In this case, it becomes dangerous because we can be arrested for individual actions.» «This is clearly an area for improvement. He meets Fabien Galthie. We have to be more collective without the ball. We sometimes had difficulty communicating with the defence.»

Moivana passes

The versatile French three-quarters faced the difficult task of forgetting Jonathan Dante, who impressed against Australia and lost in this opening match. UBB player got his feet stuck in the carpet. Like many of his partners, the 23-year-old took some time to get into his game. However, unlike his teammates, Yoram Moivana never raised his level of play during the match. His association with Gaël Fickou did not work out at all. Often used as a first striker, Sebele Valatea’s nephew has not had much success. Only four crossings. The loss is also at the back, with three failed tackles out of seven attempts. Moivana was replaced even before the hour mark (58) by Arthur Vincent, and Moivana did not necessarily score points in this match in a hotly contested position.

See also – An assist from the goalkeeper, a great finish: Jordi Sanchez’s goal in the Polish Championship on September 3

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