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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.

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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.

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“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
47
Mins in lead
33
59%
% Of Game In Lead
41%
52%
Possession Last 10 min
48%
8
Points Last 10 min
0

“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.

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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.

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“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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9 Comments
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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.

G
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
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

S
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?

D
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
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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