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Rugby World Cup: What if Les Bleues accepted the New Zealand ogre’s challenge?

And if the Blues, determined to secure the first World Cup final in French women’s rugby history, knocked out the “Black Ferns” New Zealanders, paralyzed by a challenge in front of their home crowd, Saturday (7:30am) in Auckland?

And if Gaëlle Hermet, the teams best defense in the fourth round with just 21 points, managed to fend off the offensive fury of teammates Robbie Toye and another Portia Woodman, scoring 209 points, including 35 tackles. ?

And if, after a mixed Six Nations tournament, these three have secured second place, and preparation for the World Cup is far from calm, they have taken the “keys of the truck” to offer French women’s rugby that final that their counterparts have already reached three times (1987, 1999 and 2011)?

“Saturday’s goal is to win and do the best we can and bring back the victory and that place in the final. We’re capable of doing that but we’re going to have to put in a very big performance,” said backhand Emily Pollard.

The challenge that awaits Les Bleues is great: it must be met in the country of rugby, in the Temple of Eden Park, which, on this occasion, will welcome almost 40,000 spectators, five-time world champions from New Zealand (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2017).

“We’re approaching this match in a realistic way,” confirms third-row Marjorie Mayans. We beat them twice last fall (38-13 in Pau and 29-7 in Custer), so we don’t worry. Not everyone, but we think we have a big card. We play it.”

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– kicking game –

Training French, if he said “very humbly” that Black Ferns were the favorites, also knew that this fifteenth female had enough assets to create a surprise.

“Certainly, we will have to go beyond the ‘context of the match, the first between the two teams on New Zealand soil’, but we have a group that has the ability to keep up with events and opponents when it comes to touchdowns,” said assistant coach in charge of touch, David Ortiz.

“Boys like girls, for a very long time, we always saw them as +New Zealand ghouls+: we didn’t play with them much, there was the haka, the whole culture behind them, their strength and power. Today, it’s all cut back a lot, because we meet them a lot, because we beat them Lately too, ”explains coach Thomas Darack.

On the New Zealand side, where on Saturday will feature 12 players on the match sheet who were beaten by the French during their fall 2021 tour, there is wary rhetoric.

Defender Rene Holmes said, “What happened in the past stays in the past. It’s a game like any other and we know they’re going to come out of all the stops, but we’re going to do the same.” “They have a lot of pressure in defense and they run really fast,” said coach Teresa Fitzpatrick.

Their coach, former All Blacks head coach Wayne Smith, warns of Emily Pollard and the other half, Caroline Drouin, who is able to achieve regional dominance on the Blue Team thanks to her punt game, and “isn’t easy to tackle.”

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In front of their families, the French women would anyway see themselves make the feat, Gabrielle Vernier quipped: “Just for us, this group, it would be great to reach this final.”

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