From defeat to France to the final, how the Kiwis became the All Blacks again

From defeat to France to the final, how the Kiwis became the All Blacks again

After losing their opening match to the Blues, New Zealand have continued to gain momentum since then, heading into the final with full confidence.

France TV – Sports Editorial

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New Zealand players during a lap of honor after their semi-final win over Argentina, October 20, 2023. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

If the sky fell on the heads of the French last Sunday, the skies for the New Zealanders are getting brighter game after game. After being beaten by those same tricolor during their opening match, the All Blacks confirmed the doubts that surrounded them heading into the World Cup. It is sometimes considered to be “The worst team in history” From a historic nation in world rugby, this group seems to have lost its lustre. After being beaten frequently for a year and a half (five defeats since January 2022), he has moved forward like an outsider among the others, but by no means in front.

For a month and a half, the New Zealanders never panicked, once letting the light go to France, a powerful Springboks team and an in-form Fiji side during the group stage. The French deserve their victory (…) It is undoubtedly a great victory for them, but for us it does not change much.”, angry coach Ian Foster on September 8. It is a symbolic slap, but it is not enough to begin rebuilding the lineup of a team with international pedigree that prevents it from starting from scratch. “I don’t think we need to rebuild everything. Statistics are statistics, and I understand all that, but the goal remains to win the championship.”Lane Foster continued on his streak.

The coach, who was criticized in the country after two successive defeats to Ireland and a 2022 that is among the worst in its history, knew how to surround himself with the magician Joe Schmidt and remobilize his forces. A revolt against the group’s other three opponents, much weaker, was expected, but the All Blacks gradually overcame the doubts. TThe Kings were humiliated by Namibia (71-3), Italy (96-17) and Uruguay (73-0), ending the group stage in second place. Accounting balance sheet: 240 points were scored compared to only 20 points scored in these three duels. “We have talent in all areas of the game but we haven’t found our groove yet. Tonight, we played free rugby,” Welcome Ardi Savea, the captain of the team in black, on Sky Sports, after Italy.

Aaron Smith and Ireland, the two clicks

This free-spirited rugby, which has defined them for so many years, is precisely what the All Blacks have gradually rediscovered in the competition, and it is they who have struggled against France for production play. Pocket half Aaron Smith is undoubtedly the symbol of that. Facing difficulty against the Blues, the All Blacks haka leader turned his hand back to the Men in Black game. It brought back the pace needed for the fast-paced game of rugby that is so dear to them and that has tormented so many opponents, since the Blacks played in nine semi-final matches out of ten editions.

The quarter-final match against Ireland was a test that remains very tough for the New Zealanders. Against the world’s leading nation, imperious against the Springboks in the group stage, the men in the Silver Ferns raised the bar once again by squaring off Clover in a match of incredible intensity and quality.

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The mark he challenged for the All Blacks, who finished third in the last World CupThey faced headwinds without collapsing, and they knew how to manage their peak form perfectly at the right time. “We learned a lot from 2019. We have exceptional leaders, most of them have been there and this kind of defeat motivates some of them. In the World Cup, experience is essential. I know four years have passed, we are thinking about that.” “A little bit, we’re reflecting on what we’ve learned to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”Anton Lehnert captured Brown after the victory over the Irish.

Facing the Pumas, the All Blacks wore black to the funeral, burying the hopes of the Pumas who had never stood up to comparison even though they had managed to play against the Welsh in the previous round. Without panicking, the All Blacks looked like masters of their subject once again, in a stadium that had come to witness the taming of cats that could only roar helplessly. “We kept our composure and finished the game strong, so I’m very happy.”Say hello to coach Ian Foster. “This is a new milestone for this group. It’s not over yet“, added his midfielder Jordie Barrett, man of the match on Friday.

As such, their group hug in a circle at the end of the game had the air of a sacred union, the feeling of a team on a mission despite the problems it has experienced for more than a year. “We are focused on the same thing, and we trust the plan. We are now in a different phase as a team. A few weeks ago, the group was healthy, we have built well to get to this point.”Captain Sam Keane concluded Friday evening. The sky of the archipelago, with its long white clouds, is now very close to seeing the last cumulus clouds disappear from its horizon.

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