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Viva La France As All Blacks Continue Weird Rivalry

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Fuseworks Media
Viva La France As All Blacks Continue Weird Rivalry

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 29 NZPA - It's the eternal question: why do France bring out the best and the worst in the All Blacks rugby team?

Today's 39-12 win over the side who upset them 27-22 in Dunedin in June was the All Blacks' fourth consecutive victory over their old rivals on French soil.

Remarkably, two of the previous three wins saw the All Blacks rattle up 40 points, in Lyon in 2006 and Paris in 2004.

This against the same country who eliminated the All Blacks from the 2007 World Cup in the quarterfinals, and also provided one of New Zealand's darkest sporting days in the 1999 World Cup semifinals.

Said coach Graham Henry: "We've had a bit of an up and down contest over the years. The guys really enjoy playing the French and it certainly gave an edge to the team today.

"Some of that is what has happened in the past, trying to finish the tour on a high note and an indifferent season on a high note, all of those ..."

Henry said the fact both sides were prepared to play open, running rugby made it a potentially high-scoring test.

The All Blacks also wore white jerseys for a rare occasion on foreign soil to avoid a clash with France's dark blue in the Dave Gallaher Trophy contest.

Having canned the grey alternate strip used at the 2007 World Cup, it was a welcome return to white and fullback Mils Muliaina insisted he was not parting with his 82nd test jersey.

He headed Justin Marshall as the second most capped All Blacks behind Sean Fitzpatrick (92 tests).

"I didn't really want to give that away. Being white, and the milestone that I achieved tonight is going to be a pretty special one," Muliaina said.

"That'll go up somewhere in the house if my wife will let me hang it up. It felt a bit different, but any jersey with the All Blacks on it is fairly special."

Meanwhile, France came thudding back to earth after a flying start to their home test season with a 20-13 win over the Springboks a fortnight ago.

Their scrum made a powerful start but the All Blacks gradually won the forward battle and there were precious few chances for the hosts on attack.

Said coach Marc Lievremont, through an interpreter: "There were a lot of things we could have done better but we must admit the All Blacks were very good; their attacking skills, and they put a lot of pressure on us in defence.

"They always managed to score when it was important."

Captain Thierry Dusautoir also cut a glum figure, having been a huge presence in their Dunedin win.

"We're all disappointed because we were overpowered. We don't think the All Blacks are so extraordinary but we didn't play as well as we expected."

 

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