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‘We are just gutted’: All Blacks stars reflect on World Cup loss to France

By Finn Morton
Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga of New Zealand at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Pool A match between France and New Zealand at Stade de France on September 08, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The All Blacks are understandably “gutted” after losing 27-13 to France in the Rugby World Cup opener, but there’s still plenty to play for as they set their sights on Namibia and beyond.


Playing in front of an unbelievable crowd at Stade de France on Friday night, Les Bleus created history as they handed the All Blacks their first-ever defeat in pool play at a World Cup.

New Zealand shot out of the blocks with wing Mark Telea scoring a try after only 91 seconds, but France hit back immediately after via a successful penalty from fullback Thomas Ramos.

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That set the tone for the Test. With sports royalty in the crowd including footballer Kylian Mbappe, France and the All Blacks played out an all-time classic clash to open the tournament.

The passionate crowd let out a deafening cheer at full-time as Les Bleus started their World Cup quest with a 14-point win over one of the other genuine contenders.

But it’s far from over for the All Blacks. As playmaker Richie Mo’unga reflected, the entire tournament “doesn’t all rely on the first game.”

“When you look at the amount of opportunities we had in that game, we are just gutted about the way we let France back into the game when we had all the pressure,” Mo’unga told reporters on Friday.


“We know World Cups are challenging but it doesn’t all rely on the first game. That result is obviously not ideal for us, but we can only take what we can out of it now.

Points Flow Chart

France win +14
Time in lead
Mins in lead
% Of Game In Lead
Possession Last 10 min
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“We will have a really good look at ourselves and where we went wrong. That will be very hard to do but we need to if we want to go further.

“We put a lot of pressure on them and there was a lot we were really happy with. Sometimes it was just the bounce of the ball and I felt we were a bit hard done by with a few calls that allowed them to get momentum.”

France were both relentless and efficient across the park, but Ramos was especially impressive off the kicking tee – and that mattered in the end. The fullback knocked over five penalties, including three in the first half.


The same can’t be said about their opponents, though. The All Blacks, somewhat uncharacteristically, failed to turn pressure into points during key moments.

But there were some genuine positives to take out of that Test, and they should fill New Zealand rugby fans with some confidence ahead of clashes with Namibia, Italy and Uruguay.

“It won’t change much if we both earn the right to be in the quarter-final,” fullback Beauden Barrett said.


“What we’ve got to take from this game is the learnings, but also keep believing because we did a lot of good things out there tonight and after 60 minutes the game is on a knife edge.

“The French certainly rode their wave of home support. The atmosphere was fantastic and a great way to start the tournament at a home World Cup.”


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Bob Marler 315 days ago

“We will have a really good look at ourselves and where we went wrong…”

And an even longer look at the coaching staff. Side eyed.

Greg 317 days ago

Agreed, BJ. Beauden's occasionally brilliant cross-field punt to the winger (his brother can take that over) can't make up for his lack of threat at fullback - the telegraphed kicks, the sideways crabs looking for non-existent gaps, the tepid carries into contact when he runs out of options, his lack of physical presence in defence. Jordan was an idiot getting a yellow card, but they've reduced him to a chaser of speculative kicks from Barrett. Make him fullback and allow the ABs to put Telea on his natural side, the right wing, and play some genuine threats like Fainga'uku or Clarke on the left. Do I have any confidence that Fossie (and Schmidt I assume) will rely on empirical evidence and actually re-think their back three? Nope.

B.J. Spratt 317 days ago

Beauden Barrett well past his best. Roigard should have started.

No Leadership. No Discipline. Can't change that in 10 days. Was there any difference to South African game?

I suppose when you know it's your last World Cup for coach and a lot of players it's "impossible " to change "bad habits"

I thought that was the case in 2019. We are still dealing with the same "incompetence" with a lot of the same players, with the same "Bad Habits"

Would have been nice to take a "whole new bunch of players to this World Cup"

At least we would have had some chance. No chance with this lot.

Reminds me of Chicargo 2016.

"Soaking in the French ambience" I suppose they are all "Looking forward to the Ballet and the Fkn. Opera"

"Hey Beaudy, what are you doing tonight?

Samuel, Jordan and myself are off to "Les Miserables"

"O.K. Ardie, Scott and me are going out to buy some shoes"

" Might see you in the Cafe for a "Hot Chocolate" before bed"

"That would be splendid"

"Tood-a -lu Beaudy

Stephen 317 days ago

AB's aren't strong enough mentally & still remain unable to adapt tactics during a game, especially in reference to needlessly kicking away of possession today (Beauden Barrett) & immediately putting the team under constant pressure. Aaron Smith also still pursues wasteful box kicks in his own half, instead of getting the forwards to punch the ball up to HALFWAY, THEN perhaps kick for territory, or kick to pressure opposition with a box kick. KEEP THE BALL MORE! AB's had ascendancy but threw it away. Once again, where is the leadership saying "enough!" of this & demanding tactical change during a game?

Driss 317 days ago

Beauden Richie with others clowns go out please. I am waiting only razor with impatience to rebuild the all blacks machine.

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Tim 1 hours ago
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