News Update


France vs. New Zealand: An unrivaled Rugby World Cup opener

Dalton Papali’i is less than 24 hours away from the game of his life. He’s played for New Zealand 26 times previously, but nothing compares to facing France in the Rugby World Cup opening on Friday evening.

“To be honest, I’ve always fantasized about this moment,” the 25-year-old remarked. “I really want to take it all in.” You have a task to complete for the team, but your enthusiasm levels are out of control.”

He and we both.

It may not be immediately evident why this is so important.

At the last World Cup, New Zealand defeated South Africa in a highly anticipated pool-stage match, but the Boks won the cup.

Rugby Union in Paris Every Day
Moefana replaces the injured Danty in the France midfield for the All Blacks.
Argentina ruined France’s opening-day festivities in 2007, the last time the country hosted the championship. A month later, they were celebrating the All Blacks’ 20-18 quarter-final heist.

The consequences of defeat this time will be just as severe. With Italy, Namibia, and Uruguay rounding out Pool A, New Zealand and France will remain heavy favorites to advance to the last eight, regardless of the outcome.

Injuries make any comparison of the squads’ strengths difficult. The All Blacks are without Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizzell, Brodie Retallick, and Tyrel Lomax. Jonathan Danty and Cyril Baille will be in France for the next week or so.

The outcome will not determine the fate of either campaign. There is plenty of time to recuperate psychologically. This contest shouldn’t be that important in the larger scheme of things.

Despite this, as Papali’i is well aware, it does.

It’s partly due to the past. The most potent combination in Rugby World Cup history is New Zealand and France.

In the event, no two teams have met more than seven times. There is no comparable rivalry.

France stunned and derailled juggernauts with stunning comeback victories over the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007.

New Zealand won the World Cup in 1987 and 2011, both times with final victories over France.

It’s partly for aesthetic reasons. It’s a clash of styles – the impregnable aura collides with the enticing feelings – that always lives up to the hype.

And it is partly for the future.

The meeting on Friday signifies the beginning of the end of a four-year journey for France focused on this event.

In the 2019 Six Nations, they were dreadful. An enraged French Federation responded by declaring that year’s World Cup a lost cause.

What little authority Jacques Brunel had left was vaporized when his replacement, Fabien Galthie, was anointed and then named as Brunel’s assistant for Japan 2019.

France was eliminated in the last eight, but their sights were already set on the bigger prize.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *