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'At peace with it': What Ian Foster expects from France during the haka

By Finn Morton
All Black Captain Sam Cane leads the Haka during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Brett Phibbs-Pool/Getty Images)

Just before the All Blacks’ date with destiny in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, France famously marched towards the haka as brothers-in-arms.

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Led by captain Thierry Dusautoir, Les Bleus joined hands and edged closer to closer towards their New Zealand rivals at Eden Park.

Les Bleus accepted the challenge in a stunning way, and the passionate reaction set the tone for what promised to be an enthralling World Cup decider.

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That final didn’t disappoint, either.

New Zealand won a thriller by just one point, and ended 24 years of World Cup hurt as captain Richie McCaw hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup high in triumph. The drought, finally, was over.

But that pre-game reaction from France, as incredible as it was, wasn’t the first memorable moment shared between the rivals during the haka – it’s hard to look past 2007 as another eye-catching exchange.

On the eve of New Zealand’s clash with France in the opening Test of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, coach Ian Foster didn’t seem to be losing any sleep over another possible response from Les Bleus.

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“I’m not sure, that’s their choice. Historically they have sometimes and not at other times,” Foster told reporters. “We are at peace with that, we’re happy for the opposition to respond how they want to the haka.

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“For us, it is a special part of our legacy and who we are as a team, how we connect to each other and the past.

“We know they will respect it, they have a history of respecting it. The fact they may respond in different ways is not seen by us as a lack of respect.”

There will be an added sense of passion, intensity and potentially desperation from both teams on Friday night at Stade de France.

France are preparing for their first Rugby World Cup on home soil since 2007, and with that comes both pressure and expectation. This team is favoured by many to win it all in this tournament.

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As for the All Blacks, they’re coming off a shocking loss to world champions South Africa at Twickenham a fortnight ago. The 35-7 result was their worst defeat in history

New Zealand have only lost one Test this year, but former France flanker Olivier Magne has sensationally labelled them as the “weakest” All Blacks team in history.

“To me, the big three of this World Cup is France, South Africa and Ireland,” Magne wrote in a column for Midi Olympique.

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“I am especially worried about this New Zealand team.

“South Africa’s display against New Zealand is significant for the world of rugby.

“Now, isn’t this All Black team the weakest in history? I’m wondering. Really, I feel like New Zealand’s Rugby Championship wins were a bit of a sham.”

There’s plenty on the line. Neither team would have their World Cup dreams dashed with a loss, but a win is an idyllic start that sets the tone for the tournament – and it all starts with the haka.

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Wonton 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 6 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

17 Go to comments
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