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'We expected better': Ex-All Black disappoints in first start in France

By Ben Smith
Paris's New-zealander Scrum-half Brad Weber (C) clears the ball from a scrum during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Section Paloise and Stade Français at the Hameau stadium in Pau southwestern France, on November 25, 2023. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP via Getty Images)

Former All Blacks halfback Brad Weber has disappointed in his starting debut for Stade Francais in a lopsided 30-6 loss to Pau in the Top 14.


After two showings off the bench to start his stint in France with the Paris club, the former Chiefs co-captain started in the round eight clash.

Stade fell behind early as Pau put in two tries through blindside Sacha Zegueur and lock Mickael Capelli.

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Former Exeter flyhalf Joe Simmonds kicked two conversions and two penalties to give Pau a 20-6 lead at half-time.

Stade Francais remained scoreless in the second half as Simmonds added another penalty and former All Black No 8 Luke Whitelock added another Pau try.

Weber and former England international Joe Marchant, who had a stint with the Blues in Super Rugby in 2019, were rated “flops” by French writer Jerome Prevot of RugbyRama.

On the All Blacks No 9 he was at a lost for words for Weber’s showing that was “without genius”.

“What to say? Otherwise, we expected better from this New Zealand scrum-half, 18 times selected for the All Blacks,” he wrote.


“Few differences on personal initiatives, few decisive gestures and this incomprehensible decision on a penalty which he played quickly to immediately hit directly into touch.

On Marchant he wrote that he was “annihilated” from “start to finish” by the Pau defence.

The England midfielder had seven carries for seven metres and one turnover conceded.

“It wasn’t the kind of match that could have made him shine naturally. So, we expected from the center of the XV de la Rose, something more incisive, something that would have some allure.

“We felt him annihilated by the Pau defense almost from start to finish.”

Weber didn’t fare much better taking six runs for 15 metres as he tried to get his running game going.


Stade Francais failed to register a line break as the Pau defence proved unbreakable.

The clash was a crunch game between two of the top four sides in the Top 14 with Pau now leading the league in first.

After the loss, Stade Francais slipped to 5-3 on the season and remain in third place, a reversal of the positions they held going into the match.



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Louis 232 days ago

As long as his checks clear in France i’m happy for Weber whatever happens

fraser 235 days ago

As All Black Captain

fraser 235 days ago

What about Billy Harmon

Mark 235 days ago

Give both players a chance, they are both quality players.

Mr 235 days ago

It’s “ at a loss for words”
If you’re going to ask to be read at least get it right. These errors are a regular occurrence, which undermine an otherwise good site.

Pecos 235 days ago

As an overseas player the French press tend to have a “no excuses” policy.

Don 235 days ago

It's a team game, your half back isn't going to win it for you on his own..what were the forwards doing while the blindside , no 8, and flanker were scoring tries…do you expect the half back is the guy to stop those guys getting over the line?

Jon 235 days ago

Haha love french google translations. Poor reporter/fan, would he like the second best NZ halfback instead, has more caps? 😃

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Jon 1 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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