the favorites and the favorites of our special correspondents

Find out what pleased, and less pleased, our three rugby specialists present at the Stade de France during the Blues’ victory at the opening of the World Cup against the All Blacks (27-13).


Wise Blues like images

The figure is certainly a record. French players only conceded four penalties on Friday night against the All Blacks. So few that we can list the offenders sanctioned by the South African referee, Jaco Peyper: François Cros, Thibaud Flament, Gabin Villière and Matthieu Jalibert. Even adding a free kick, this remains well above what is commonly considered a high-level international copy (8 fouls). Compare with the 12 penalties collected by the New Zealanders and the yellow card inflicted on winger Will Jordan for a tackle in the air on Thomas Ramos. “I don’t think we were too undisciplined, argued coach Ian Foster. The French got a few penalties from us in the rucks, but we knew they were going to be good in this area. We must give credit to France for this pressure. As for Will (Jordan), he was a little clumsy on two aerial actions and the second one didn’t help us. The yellow card came at a bad time. France knew how to take advantage of it, but we were quite disciplined in the first half.» Fabien Galthié was in heaven. “Discipline has been an essential sector. It allowed Thomas Ramos to keep us afloat with his foot.»

The All Blacks can thank Telea

Light in the shadows. The light in the darkness of the All Blacks. Not the most experienced (26 years, six caps), not the best known, but certainly the most prominent at the Stade de France. If everyone had their eyes fixed on Will Jordan, his counterpart on the right who got through his match, it was Mark Telea who delighted his people. The Auckland winger perfectly concluded the first movement of the men in black with a corner try after 92 seconds of play, the fastest try in history for a World Cup opening match. Mark Telea even scored a double after returning from the locker room (43rd), despite a final p marred by a big forward. But the referee did not want to use video… His fourth and fifth tries in six matches with the fern jersey. And statistics that make you dizzy: 114 meters gained, nine crossings. New Zealand has found a new strongman.

Mauvaka, the makings of a number 1

Julien Marchand’s injury is a huge blow for the French XV. But with Peato Mauvaka, the Blues still have an international cl hooker, much more than a simple understudy. Entering in the 12th minute of play, the Toulouse player produced a titanic performance against the All Blacks. An impressive activity, constant dynamism for an XXL performance. Faced with his New Zealand neighbors, the New Caledonian from Wallis and Futuna knows how to transcend himself. Two years ago, he already scored a superb double. And, this Friday, he shone again at the Stade de France. “We are never prepared to enter a match so earlyhe confided afterwards. It was a somewhat special match for me: there was my family, my mother, in the stands. I tried to quickly switch. With the adrenaline, you forget the fatigue a little.” From now on, he will don the number 1 heel suit. But, after the match he has just had, there is no need to worry. Even if, he recognizes, the Blues can still progress. “At half-time, we had our ears pulled by Fabien (Galthié). We were in a bit of trouble, we couldn’t get out of the trap. We knew we had to stay cool, it was going to pay off in the end.” And brilliantly. In the eyes of the whole world.


The Black Series

The historic rout suffered at the end of August against the Springboks was therefore not anecdotal. In the wake of the most defeat in their history (35-7), the All Blacks conceded their first setback in the World Cup group stage. Two disillusionments which confirm that New Zealanders are at the bottom of the wave. With an ultimately sterile game (so many kicks!) despite some rare flashes, unusual hand errors and confidence certainly at half mast. Once again, coach Ian Foster wanted to be positive. As best they could. “We were effective but they were able to counter us, we will have to improve at certain levels, we have to be more intelligent, we gave them too many chances.” And let go: “That doesn’t change anything for the future, we are still enthusiastic and our goal is always to win the World Cup…” Not many people believe it. For only the fourth time in their history, the All Blacks have just conceded two defeats in a row against the Blues, after 1973-1977, 1994-1995 (3 successes) and 2007-2009. Proof that the evil is deep. And that the French and New Zealand dynamics have been reversed.

The French defense at bay

This is the recurring problem for the Blues since the start of the year. 70% more tries conceded than in 2022. Friday evening, Mark Talea was able to strike twice and the approximate defensive positioning of Damian Penaud is no stranger to this. Against the All Blacks, the Blues missed 32 tackles (17 in the first half, 15 in the second). For 81% success in this exercise while they had accustomed us to exceed 90% of successful tackles. The three-quarter line was particularly faulty in this exercise with 6 misses for Jalibert, 5 for Penaud, 3 for Moefana and 3 also for Fickou (but 14 successful for the captain of the French defense). “We were a little tense perhapstries to understand François Cros, who, contrary to his reputation as a pruner, also missed 3 tackles. We didn’t really go looking for them in defense. And in this case, it becomes dangerous because we can be caught on individual actions.» «This is clearly an area for improvement. recognizes Fabien Galthié. We have to be more collective without the ball. We sometimes had difficulty connecting on defense.»

Moefana gets through

The versatile three-quarter of the French XV had the difficult task of forgetting Jonathan Danty, affected against Australia and forfeited for this opening match. The UBB player got his feet caught in the carpet. Like many of his partners, the young player (23 years old) took time to get into his game. However, unlike his teammates, Yoram Moefana never raised his level of play during the game. His ociation with Gaël Fickou did not work at all. Often used as a first striker, Sipili Falatea’s nephew has had very little success. Only four crossings. Waste also behind, with three missed tackles out of seven attempted. Replaced even before the hour mark (58th) by Arthur Vincent, Moefana did not necessarily score points in this match in a position where competition is fierce.

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