“On September 8th, we will have the best team in the world in front of us.” The sentence was issued in the hall of the Stade de France, immediately after the demonstration of the Blues against Australia (41-17) last Sunday. With a sharp look behind his giant frame, Fabien Galtier is already focused on meeting Gilles. The coach and half of the 1999 world champions know better than anyone the importance of that stunning start against the All Blacks. Its outcome is likely to determine the standings of this five-man group (with Uruguay, Namibia and Italy) and the French XV’s likely opponent in the World Cup quarter-finals: Ireland. For months, Galthée avoided like the plague anything resembling overconfidence or relaxation.
This is the qualifier for New Zealand-Zealand’s “best equipment in the world” at the end of the day… there is a great feeling for those who helped in the fight against the Blacks against the Springboks (7-35) at Twickenham this week the past. Never, in 102 years of confrontations against their rivals from the southern hemisphere, have they been subjected to such a correction. “It’s worrying to see this team getting thrashed by South Africa just before the competition,” Ian Borthwick, a leading French-New Zealand journalist and author of All Blacks, at the Heart of Black Magic, tells JDD. sports). But half the New Zealanders had not played for a month and the level of preparation was not as good as the Bucs’. The team isn’t ready yet, so we have to set the record straight a little bit. »
Fourth in the world rankings
This stinging slap in the face of the King of Rugby had another consequence, which was to knock the Silver Ferns players off the world podium. The All Blacks now sit in fourth place behind South Africa, Ireland and now France, equaling their worst monthly ranking since their inception in 2003. A similar humiliation occurred last year, at the end of a historic setback at home to Ireland (12-23). Which became an indicator of New Zealand’s slide. The stat says it all: Before 2016, the Lions had never lost to Clover players. Since then, in eight head-to-head meetings, they have lost five times.
Among the officials most criticized is coach Ian Foster, who has been in charge since 2019. This former team claims to believe in his “plan” and is counting on a recent victory in the Rugby Championship, the equivalent of the Six Nations in the south. Hemisphere. But under his leadership, the three-time world champion (1987, 2011, 2015) has only sporadically excelled. “The Blacks have almost become a regular team,” Borthwick admits. The pre-match haka, the Maori warrior dance that has become a symbol of rugby, has become less intimidating; After Ireland, Argentina took advantage of the gap to open its victory over the blacks. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
The shadow of Macaw, Lomo, and Carter…
Ian Foster was welcomed to great fanfare with his men on Friday in Lyon, the New Zealanders’ home during the competition, and will live out his final campaign in France. He will be replaced at the beginning of 2024 by former Perpignan release Scott Robertson. The Kiwi Federation’s choice to announce this change before the tournament was controversial. He can unite a team around an end goal but he can also break it. Ultimately, the idea of being handed the keys to a prestigious truck prevailed as much as it was fickle for a newcomer.
Another frequent target of demanding press and supporters is captain Sam Keane, who struggles to compare with his legendary predecessor Richie McCaw and his astonishing record, 148 caps, 131 victories and two World Championships (2011, 2015) in the same third line. position. A charismatic hero like Kane is portrayed as bland and lacking in “drive,” a flaw that is almost crippling when we follow in the footsteps of Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter. “A year ago I wished Keane and Foster had been fired,” Borthwick concludes. But the Southern Hemisphere Championship went well. I am convinced that blacks will find solutions to progress in rugby and forget about Twickenham. With its history and its magnificence, New Zealand remains for me one of the favorite countries to win the World Cup. » One of the favorites for sure, but not the only one despite the crazy talent of Savea, Mo’unga and the three Barrett brothers. This in itself is already a small revolution.
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