France once again travel to New Zealand this June for the latest instalment in this historic trans-continental Rugby Battle of the ages. The two rival teams meet head to head on June 9 th at Eden Park before traveling to Wellington for their June 16 th encounter. The two teams then head to the South Island for their third and final test of the tour at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on June 23rd.
The two teams’ have played against each other in seven World Cup matches – the most of any pair of teams, with the All Blacks still leading the tally at 5-2. However, many still recall the stunning upset that France dished out on the All Blacks at the Quarterfinal of RWC 1999, taking the game 43-31. Christophe Lamaison showed his masterclass performance by tallying 28 points made up of a try, two drop goals and two penalties.
France once again defeated the All Blacks in the 2007 RWC by a score of 20 – 18 in what has to be one of the most controversial and most talked about refereeing decisions ever as Wayne Barnes seemingly brushes off a Damian Traille forward pass to Freddie Michalak resulting in a try for France.
Overall, the All Blacks reign supreme head to head against France in all 58 encounters, winning 45 times to France’s 12 and sharing one draw between them. France’s longest winning streak against the All Blacks has been capped at three so far (26 June 1994 – 18 November 1995) while the All Blacks winning streak (20 June 2009 – present) is currently at 11 wins. The largest points at home for France was 26 in their 26 – 39 loss at Stade de France in 2000, and the largest points away was 43 in the memorable win at Twickenham against the All Blacks at RWC 1999.
The All Blacks largest points against France at home was 61 at Westpac Stadium in their 61-10 win in 2007, whilst away it is 62 at Cardiff, Wales, in their 62-13 victory in 2015. Can France pull back the deficit in the upcoming tour to New Zealand? With an impressive lineup including center Mathieu Bastareaud, wing Teddy Thomas and Morgan Parra at halfback along with lock Yohan Maestri and prop Rabah Slimani providing senior leadership in the forwards, France will surely
give the All Blacks a run for their money.
With “offload king” Sonny Bill Williams out with a knee injury and longstanding Captain Kieran Read out with a broken thumb, the All Blacks however still pack a punch in the forwards with senior locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. A relatively young backline hides the intense brilliance of depth the All Blacks always seem to have with uncapped scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi hopefully making his Test debut in this series, alongside fullback Damien McKenzie and Rieko Ioane at wing.
Three weeks to see the outcome of the latest instalment of the Rugby Battle of the Ages… Who do you think will take the Series?
FRANCE □ – □ NEW ZEALAND