It was a memorable day for France as they defeated New Zealand 27-13 in the first match of the Rugby World Cup 2023. This was at the Stade de France in Paris. The hosts scored four brilliant tries, two by Teddy Thomas, and ended their 12-year drought against the All Blacks.
France played with courage and skill, matching New Zealand’s power and pace. They defended with vigor, especially in the dying minutes when New Zealand fought to win. They also attacked with creativity and efficiency, taking advantage of New Zealand’s mistakes and flaws.
New Zealand, the defending champions and the favorites to win the tournament, looked unsteady and sloppy. They made too many errors, losing penalties and control. They also wasted their chances, missing three shots at goal and failing to score several tries. They scored three tries, but only one in the second half.
The outcome was a huge disappointment, as New Zealand had dominated France in their previous matches. They won 15 of their last 16 matches, including two Rugby World Cup finals in 1987 and 2011. France had not won against New Zealand since 2009, when they won 27-22 in Dunedin.
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The game was also an appropriate tribute to Dave Gallaher, captain of the Original All Blacks. Gallaher toured France in 1906 and died in World War I. The two teams competed for the Dave Gallaher Trophy, which France lifted for the first time since 2000.
The win puts France in a great spot to finish first in Pool A, which also includes Italy, Namibia and Uruguay. They will play against Uruguay on Wednesday, September 14 at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. New Zealand will try to bounce back against Namibia on Friday, September 15 at the Stadium de Toulouse.
France also improved their chances of winning their first Rugby World Cup title, as they dodged a possible quarter-final clash with South Africa or Ireland. They could face Australia or Wales in the last eight, depending on Pool C2 outcome.
France Previous History of Rugby world cup matches
French team reached three Rugby World Cup finals, but failed to win them all. They lost to New Zealand in 1987 and 2011, and to Australia in 1999. They also reached three semi-finals, but only won one against New Zealand in 1999.
France have a history for being unpredictable and unreliable, capable of beating any team on their day but also falling to weaker opponents. They have often competed well at Rugby World Cups, especially when not expected to do so.
French team have shown that they have the capability and spirit to challenge for the trophy this year. They have a well-balanced squad, with experienced players like captain Charles Ollivon, scrum-half Antoine Dupont and centre Virimi Vakatawa, and promising youngsters like fly-half Matthieu Jalibert, lock Paul Willemse and full-back Melvyn Jaminet.
They also have enthusiastic and vocal home support, as they host the tournament for the first time since 2007. They will hope to follow South Africa in 1995 and England in 2003, who both won the Rugby World Cup on home soil.
France made their mark with their win over New Zealand. However, they realize they still have a long way to go before they can lift the Webb Ellis Cup on October 28 at the Stade de France. They will need to stay in their form and focus throughout the tournament, and outlast some tough opponents along the way.
But for now, they can cherish an unforgettable victory that will stand down in history as one of their finest rugby moments.