All Blacks in 'freefall' - How NZ media are reacting to French loss
New Zealand’s latest boilover loss in Paris last night against France, a week after they were floored in Dublin, is the first time the All Blacks have lost two in a row this year.
France racked up 40 points to the guests 25 in an electrifying performance that matched if not exceeded the heady scenes at the Aviva Stadium a week earlier.
The last time Ian Foster’s team lost two on the trot was against Argentina and Australia on successive weekends in 2020. Before that? You’d have to go back to the 2011 Rugby Championship for back to back All Blacks losses.
The men in black don’t do losing and they most certainly don’t do losing twice in a row; such is the harsh yardstick by which the New Zealand rugby public measure their team. Many Kiwis are now openly questioning whether Foster’s ongoing tenure as head coach should be cut short, with Crusader’s mastermind Scott Robertson a favourite to be parachuted in should NZR press the panic button.
And all this hand wringing comes in a calendar year where their winning percentage sits at 80 per cent [12 games from 15] – a stat most tier one teams would kill for.
The media back home in New Zealand – as you can imagine – are concerned.
The NZ Herald’s Liam Napier wrote: “The flaws France exposed have been exploited too often this season, leaving major concerns surrounding the All Blacks’ ability to problem solve week to week.
“Just as South Africa and Ireland proved another big powerful forward pack seriously troubled the All Blacks.”
Stuff’s Marc Hinton believes the loss heralds a new world order in rugby union.
“World rugby has a new global order, and right now the All Blacks are on the outside looking in. The Boks remain up there, for sure, despite their year-ending defeat to England, but it’s a group dominated by the powerhouses of the north – France, England and Ireland who have masterfully demonstrated their quite disparate strengths over the last few weeks.
“The All Blacks are officially in free-fall, and have a mountain to climb over the next couple of seasons if they are to be a threat at the 2023 World Cup, back in France. All of a sudden, that decision earlier this year to extend Ian Foster’s contract through that global event seems like it might just have been somewhat premature.”
“For the All Blacks, a third defeat and second on the bounce makes it their worst season since 2009, and the soul-searching will be immense on the back of consecutive performances that have seen them soundly beaten across many facets of the game.”
The NZ Herald’s Cameron McMillan wrote: “Two defeats at the back end of a long and Covid-hit season, coming after Foster re-signed as All Blacks head coach in August, won’t exactly inspire New Zealand fans two years out from a World Cup.
“At some point next month Foster will do a review with the top brass at New Zealand Rugby, which happens at the end of every year. It’s at that point the call would be made to make a change or stick with the status quo.”
The All Blacks have had mid-cycle dips before and lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy two seasons later. If this particular fall from grace is a bellwether for further decline, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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