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'That's something we haven't seen from the French in awhile': What made these Kiwi players take notice of the power growing in Six Nations rugby

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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Despite falling short against England at Twickenham, France’s second impressive Six Nations campaign has reaffirmed their status as one of the growing powers in the international game.


The 23-20 loss dented their Six Nations hopes but furthered their build towards a home World Cup in 2023.

Former Blues hooker James Parsons said there ‘was a lot to like about’ the way this French side is playing the game but came unstuck against England by chancing their arm one time too many.

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“You’ve got to be impressed with the French side and where they are at, the way they like to play, their attacking style,” he said on this week’s Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“You talk about ‘no fear’, they just throw everything at it. Potentially it was what cost them [against England] but give them a couple more years, they are going to be a genuine threat at this World Cup.”

“They are a young side, and there is a lot to like about them. And they were still within reach towards the end at 23-20. They had the ball at the end on the 22 and Dupont unfortunately knocked it on. He was exceptional on the day.”

“England fought their way back into it, they didn’t have the best start. They went back to what they know, their mauls, and Billy Vunipola I think had 18 carries. They went to what they know and got the match-winner through a man who has been under a lot of pressure in Itoje.”


Despite a second half laden with an overbearing amount of kicking, Parsons said that it can be ‘hard’ to switch watching between Super Rugby and international rugby, but that kicking is integral at that level.

“A lot of kicking. But I think with international rugby, it is hard to go from watching Super Rugby Aotearoa where one team kicks 14 times and the other team kicks 12 times to watching international footy where you do have to have a bit more strategy.

“Both sides kicked 29 times. It is a different style, but I just think they probably won the arm wrestle and the chess match. The possession and territory stakes wore down.

“France just ended up having to make a lot more tackles in their half, and chance their arm just one too many times.


“The funny thing is, they lost, but the brand of footy they are playing our natural reaction is to talk about them. And that’s nothing against England because they won the test match, but they were a joy to watch.”

Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall explained that France’s set-piece try by Damian Penaud was a sign that this French side is unlike any of recent times, and that the level of execution required to pull that off shows France are a side to be reckoned with.

“France are going to be scary come 2023, they are a young side coming on the up. You look at that second try, that special [lineout play] off the top, the return ball and having block runners, animated and down lines. That’s special.

“That’s something we haven’t seen from the French in awhile. You look at that first try, use the short side and square hands and the chip and chase with Dupont with that great ability to get one hand on it and get back inside for that try.

Hall said that despite the last play error, Dupont has been one of the best players to watch in the Six Nations.

“I feel really sorry for him, to knock on that ball. He’s just been so good in this Six Nations. For a decision like that, I’ve done it so many times in my career, sometimes it is a foot or a hand that loses the ball. Unfortunately that was the losing of the game there.

“I just think that France, they are brewing something special in that environment. Come 2023 they will be a team to watch, especially at home as well.”


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