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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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'Truly exposed': France put All Blacks' deficiencies in clear view

By Sam Smith
The All Blacks will have some tough reviews ahead of next season after suffering two losses on the end of year tour.(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The 40-25 loss to France completed back-to-back defeats for the All Blacks under Ian Foster for the second time, after losing to the Pumas and Wallabies in consecutive matches in 2020.


France raced out to a 24-6 lead in the first half in a dominant opening stanza, but the All Blacks were able to fight back through tries to Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane.

The game was in the balance as France held a two-point lead at 27-25 with roughly twenty minutes left before an outstanding piece of counter-attack swung the match in France’s favour.

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Healthspan Performer of the Week vs Ireland
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Healthspan Performer of the Week vs Ireland

Running out of his own in-goal, Romain Ntamack sparked a long break that ended with a yellow card to Ardie Savea and three points to France after what could have been a five metre scrum to the All Blacks had they pinned the flyhalf down.

Damian Penaud came up with the play that put France two scores ahead when he picked off a rushed pass from David Havili to score under the posts and put the home side up 37-25.

The loss in Paris was also the first time the All Blacks have conceded three test defeats in a season since 2009, with South Africa, Ireland and France earning wins over Foster’s side.

Questions that have lingered since last year’s season have resurfaced, with Kiwi fans now very aware of the state of New Zealand’s top side. Fans claimed that they had been ‘truly exposed’ over the last two weeks with ‘no plan but to kick the ball and hope’.


Others believed the forward pack had been ‘destroyed’ by both the French and Irish packs, with Northern Hemisphere tight fives ‘far superior’.

In his post-match interview on the Amazon Prime broadcast, head coach Ian Foster said that the environment was ‘amazing’ but the All Blacks gave France a ‘dream start’.

Foster said he was ‘immensely proud’ of his side for fighting back in the game but that a key period of play cost his side.

“It was an amazing environment, wasn’t it? I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like it,” Foster told the pitch side reporter.


“We gave them the start they dreamed of, really, and we found it hard to crawl it back.

“Immensely proud, we came back at 27-25 and a yellow card and an intercept killed us at the wrong time. But it was a great occasion.”

On the All Blacks-France game being an advert for World Rugby, Foster said he couldn’t complain and pointed to the game as a reason why test rugby is healthy as it is.

“It’s hard to complain, isn’t it? I still smile when you say you need a competition for test matches to be relevant, well just look at this you know?

“The passion of the French and the supporters was immense tonight. Like I said, it was awesome to be a part of it and proud of our guys for coming back but just ran out of a bit of energy at the end.”


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RUGBYPASS+ Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis