Rugby World Cup: the 5 biggest matches France-New Zealand

Since the very first World Cup, organized in 1987 by New Zealand, the French XV and the All Blacks have regularly crossed paths, thus marking the history of rugby

Rugby World Cup: the 5 biggest matches France-New Zealand

Since the very first World Cup, organized in 1987 by New Zealand, the French XV and the All Blacks have regularly crossed paths, thus marking the history of rugby. Historic victories and defeats on both sides have left an indelible mark. The two countries face each other on Friday to open the 2023 World Cup and, for the first time, neither nation is really the favorite. A look back at the most beautiful France-New Zealand in the history of the Rugby World Cup.

On November 15, 1986, the two countries faced each other at the Beaujoire stadium in Nantes. The match, nicknamed "the battle of Nantes", was one of the fiercest in the history of the French XV, which won 16 to 3. The revenge took place a few months later. France and the Blacks meet for the first final in the history of the World Cup on June 20, 1987, in Auckland. After an hour of play in a very close match, fatigue was felt on the French side and the Blacks scored two tries in two minutes through David Kirk and John Kirwan. The Blues will save the honor with a try from Pierre Berbizier and a penalty from Didier Camberabero at the end of the match. New Zealand made history by winning the first World Cup in their country.

People often speak of the “Twickenham miracle”. For fans of the oval ball, it is the greatest match in the history of the World Cup. France found itself in the semi-final in 1999 against the greatest team in the world, Jonah Lomu's New Zealand. In front of 73,000 spectators in the legendary Twickenham stadium, France lost 24-10. But, thanks to Richard Dourthe, Philippe Bernat-Salles and the historic essay of a certain Christophe Dominici, the XV of France provoked one of the greatest comebacks in its history and created a surprise by qualifying for the final against Australia lost 35 to 12.

On October 6, 2007, the XV of France once again faced the terrible New Zealand team. Organized in France, the match will finally take place in Wales, co-organizer of the competition, in the Cardiff stadium. The Blues suffered in the group stage, including a defeat in the opening match against Argentina. In Cardiff, the French team will be able to play without the pressure of their public. The "Haka" of this encounter will go down in legend with the Frenchmen challenging the Blacks inches away from them.

The match experienced a rare intensity which will leave a huge mark on the players. Jauzion, Clerc, Chabal, Milloud, Thion, De Villiers and Heymans were affected. The Blacks also left feathers, since Carter, Evans and McDonald had to come out before the end. But, thanks to an incredible match from young Thierry Dusautoir and an anthology try from Yannick Jauzion, France created the feat and qualified for the semi-final, losing to England (14-9).

This match undoubtedly remains one of the cruelest in the history of the French XV. After a difficult competition, France miraculously found itself in the final against New Zealand. The All Blacks, at home, largely dominated all the teams and started with total confidence, especially since they crushed the Blues in the opening match (37-17). All the signals are green for the New Zealanders, the match seems to be a foregone conclusion.

But the France team plays an exceptionally solid match, does not give in. The intensity of the meeting is incredible. Despite the courage of Thierry Dusautoir, voted man of the match after scoring a try and making 21 tackles, New Zealand ended up winning.

France finds itself in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Second in its group, the selection faces the best generation in the history of the All Blacks. Conversely, the XV of France has been experiencing great difficulties for four years with mediocre results, but the whole country is hoping for a feat like in 1999 and 2007.

Despite a rather eye-catching first half (29-13), the Blues collapsed in the second half against the power of Julian Savea and the artist Dan Carter at the top of his art. Nine tries were conceded, as well as a historic defeat, with a 49-point difference, a record at this stage of the competition.