‘Prospects have dipped significantly’: Scribe’s take on All Blacks’ World Cup chances
It was also the All Blacks’ first-ever loss in a World Cup pool match. They were left in unfamiliar territory, and they’ve turned to their great rivals for guidance as they venture through the dark.
Four years ago, the Springboks became the first team to win the World Cup after losing a pool match. The Boks were beaten by the All Blacks in pool play, but went on to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup.
That historic World Cup run offers the All Blacks a glimmer of hope. Centre Jordie Barrett reflected on South Africa’s 2019 campaign, saying the first match taught them “a few lessons.”
But on the other side of the coin, there appears to be genuine cause for concern. The All Blacks were stuck in the fight for most of the Test, but rugby is an 80-minute game.
New Zealand Herald journalist Liam Napier described the 27-13 defeat as “quite predictable” earlier this week, and added that there will be “big questions” asked of the All Blacks throughout the tournament.
“To be honest, Darce (Darcy Waldegrave), it was quite predictable, I expected France to do that probably because the players the All Blacks had out,” Napier said on Weekend Sport with Jason Pine.
“I thought New Zealand competed well for probably 50-odd minutes and then crumpled in the last quarter.
“They’ve got a number of issues to attend to: the scrum, they lost the ariel battle, their discipline was another major issue after Twickenham where they conceded three yellow cards.
“They will be a much better team when they get Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane and Tyrel Lomax back eventually, but they really need their best team on the park, for me, to compete with the top nations in the world.
“They’re currently ranked fourth in the world and they’re playing like it to be honest.
“Nothing changes from the respect that they’re going to have a defining quarter-final juncture but from an outside perspective, from a pundit perspective, I think their prospects have dipped significantly in the wake of that performance.”
New Zealand couldn’t have started the World Cup opener any better with wing Mark Telea scoring after just 92 seconds.
The usually vibrant crowd quieted to a hush – they were left stunned as the All Blacks made their way back to their half for the kick-off.
But France was up for the fight.
Les Bleus looked like the All Blacks of old as they simply found a way to win a seesawingTest match. That’s what made the 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks so special.
That was the difference on Friday night.
“The All Blacks, they were the team that would win in any circumstance. If they were down and out, they would come back. They were the team that would steamroll opposition,” Napier said.
“On a sweltering night in Paris, this time it was the All Blacks weltering.
“They were missing some big players but you’ve got to question the team’s on-field leadership, I think you’d got to point the finger at the bench… serious questions to be had around the selection of the bench.
“There’s some big questions hovering over this team and they’ve got to win three pool matches, we’ve got to beat Italy, but we’re not really going to know whether they’re up to scratch, whether they’re able to compete with these top teams until the quarter-finals.”
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