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The greatest World Cup match ever?

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Alastair Eykyn | 10:51 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

On 31 October 1999, 70,000 people filed into Twickenham expecting to see champions-elect New Zealand walk past France into the World Cup final. What followed was certainly a classic for rugby fans but was it the greatest World Cup match ever?

 

Maybe France’s 43-31 victory was the best of all time. Perhaps even, dare I suggest it, for All Blacks supporters. It was a unique occasion, a stunning contest featuring every possible element you could wish for in a sporting showdown.

 

There was a hot favourite, an unpredictable underdog, some phenomenally good tries and a barely believable see-sawing of the scoreboard. It was rare drama.

 

 

France centre Richard Dourthe (arms aloft) celebrates with Emile Ntamack as current coach Marc Lievremont looks on. Picture: Getty

 

Before the match, the All Blacks were 1-20 after destroying Tonga 45-9, England 30-16 and Italy 101-3 - before seeing off Scotland 30-18 in the quarter-final.

 

By contrast, France had been beaten 54-7 in Wellington four months previously and picked up the Five Nations wooden spoon. In the World Cup, they struggled past Canada, saw off a below-par Namibia and scraped through against Fiji 28-19 in a controversial pool match in Toulouse.

 

The Fijians had been denied what appeared to be a legitimate try by referee Paddy O’Brien and, despite leading 19-13 with 10 minutes to play, were undone by the New Zealand official when he awarded a penalty try to France late on.

 

Les Bleus had shown only a fleeting glimpse of their capabilities - in beating Argentina in the quarter-final 47-26.

 

France winger Emile Ntamack recalled: “We were laughing before the game. It was very simple, we had nothing to lose. The difference between the two teams was incredible. For us there was a great pride at just being in the semi-final. Nobody expected us to get there.”

 

John Hart was the New Zealand coach that day.

 

He remembered: “My theme for the team had been, ‘Expect the unexpected’. I had a great respect for the French capacity to do special things. Invariably a degree of complacency can wear in and it was probably in the players’ minds. As soon as you have any complacency at this level you open the door -  that’s what happened.”

 

New Zealand were edgy at the start, making uncharacteristic errors. France lost Xavier Garbajosa to a yellow card early on but still struck first with a Christophe Lamaison try.

 

It was the start of a remarkable day for the fly-half, where he didn’t miss a kick. But Andrew Mehrtens’s boot and a bruising Jonah Lomu try sent the All Blacks into the changing rooms 17-10 ahead.

 

According to Ntamack, France were unfazed at the break. He said: “The first half was tough for us but the scoreline wasn’t too bad. We told each other, ‘We’re in the game - stay strong in defence, stay focused’.”

 

Across the hallway, John Hart was telling his team to shut the game down.

 

He said: “The message I gave them was to play for territory, dominate the set-piece and not let them into the game. Sadly we didn’t follow that message because we scored too easily after half-time through Jonah [Lomu]. Immediately people thought, ‘We’re home’. Tactically we played into the opposition’s hands.” 

 

Lomu’s second try was his 15th in World Cups and put New Zealand 24-10 ahead. It seemed the All Blacks were heading for the final  - but France had other ideas. Lamaison banged over two quick drop-goals and two penalties. Suddenly there was only a two-point difference with 25 minutes to go.

 

Ntamack remembered: “I don’t think we changed the way we were playing. I think the All Blacks changed. They were surprised to see us fighting, surprised at our spirit.”

 

France blitzed New Zealand with a three-try burst through Christophe Dominici, Richard Dourthe and Phillippe Bernat-Salles. All came from kicks piercing the defence. It was a breathtaking spell of 33 unanswered points. 

 

Hart said: “That rugby ball can do some strange things and it decided to do them that afternoon at Twickenham. We were beaten by an unbelievable 20 minutes of rugby from the French. Every bounce went their way and they got a very strong rub of the green from the referee [Scotland’s Jim Fleming] - although I’ve never said it publicly until now.

 

“People in New Zealand say what a disaster it was but, when you look at the tries and the nature of the game, it was the most outstanding game of rugby football.”

 

Ntamack felt invincible. He said: “We didn’t want the game to stop. This was our day. New Zealand didn’t know what had happened. We had it all, we had everything. We felt we could keep going and score more tries. We played with big hearts, with honour and with guts.”

 

Tana Umaga, Jonah Lomu and Andrew Mehrtens were among a star-studded All Blacks team stunned by the French at Twickenham. Picture: Getty

The game ended with the All Blacks scoring a consolation try at the end through Jeff Wilson but New Zealand were broken men leaving the field after the 43-31 defeat.

 

John Hart remembered: “There were a lot of tears. I had to confront the media because my captain [Taine Randell) was in no state to do so. He was devastated. It was soul-destroying.’’

 

The French celebrations were unconfined, although the fairytale ended as they were beaten by Australia 35-12 in the Millennium Stadium final.

 

 

Little did Hart know that, eight years later, the French would inflict another heartbreaking World Cup defeat on the All Blacks – beating them 20-18 in a World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff.

 

France seem to relish knocking over the sport’s kingpins and have another chance this weekend in Auckland.

 

Perhaps the last word should go to Ntamack. He added: "We know deep down we can play brilliant rugby. Every time we play New Zealand it’s a special game. They are a reference point for every team in the world. But it’s not just about beating them - it’s about proving to them that we are good players too."

 

Listen to 5 live Sport's Rugby World Cup programme on Thursday, 2100-2230 BST.  

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This shows France's unpredictability, and how unnerving it must be going to play them, not knowing what they will produce.
    Also highlights how you can never write off the underdog in the World Cup.

    I don't know if they will produce the same upset this weekend, but I am looking forward to the game. I hope if they don't turn them over, then the french at least push them close!

  • Comment number 2.

    Ah, John Hart... 11 years on and now he criticises the referee, though he'd had the honour not to till this point. Why wait John? Apparently, as every other Kiwi tells the world, the refs have been at fault for every other All Black world cup failure in the past two decades! Maybe, just maybe, NZ's sides are not as good as they think they are...? No, no, I'm talking rubbish. Its the refs, always the refs.

  • Comment number 3.

    I reckon that in any big tournament, of whatever sport, there's always a shock result. So I decided this was going to be it. I was in my sick-bed at home, suffering a bad bout of man flu. So I phoned my new girlfriend and asked her to put me £10 on a French victory (anybody know what odds I'd have got?). My condition improved dramatically as France ran in that succession of 2nd half tries. But later came the crushing relapse - she hadn't put the bet on (didn't agree with gambling was the excuse)... yet now I'm married to her!

  • Comment number 4.

    monsieurhulot: How much should you have won if the bet had been placed?
    Will you be putting a similar bet on this weekend?

  • Comment number 5.

    Quite right #2, All Black supporters are the worst losers in the world of sport. Guess that's what happens when you win all the time [almost]. Try being Welsh

  • Comment number 6.

    No wonder New Zealand lost! Look at that photo: they look totally disinterested! Umaga's too busy texting on his phone to pay attention to the game!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    As an Englishman, our interest in RWC '99 had been snuffed out by Jannie de Beer the previous week and so I remember watching this match with friends only because we had nothing better to do. We very nearly turned off at one stage as France looked as though they really weren't interested. Lomu ran through half their team for one of his tries with some of the French backs adopting the 'timid schoolboy' approach to tackling - slap their legs and jump out of the way. Then something changed and Les Bleus were suddenly running in tries from everywhere and we all became French for the afternoon. They remain one of the most exciting teams to watch as you never know what you will get and probably only one of three teams who stand a chance against the All Blacks this time round (although I suspect not during the pool stages).

  • Comment number 8.

    I was at the game. As a neutral Englishman, it was one of the greatest games of rugby! I could say that the tactic the French used just replicated what David Rees of England did against Lomu and the rest of New Zealand at Twickenham in 1997, but they did it a lot more consistently than England ever managed.
    The sight and sound of well over half the Twickenham crowd (including probably at least 25,000 English) cheering on France at the home of English rugby was amazing and something that will probably never be repeated!

  • Comment number 9.

    I was there and also at the other semi-final the day before. The most amazing thing to me was the reaction of the English crowd. During the Australia - South Africa game, the crowd was interested of course but somewhat neutral and instead appreciative of both sides' good play. That was the case for the first half of the NZ-France as well. However, after the break, the English crowd swung heavily in favour of the French and I witnessed and heard Englishmen, yes Englishmen (!), singing "Allez Les Bleus" with great heart and gusto. I admit I supported New Zealand to win the game and left the ground in somewhat of a state of shock. I console myself with the fact that I didn't go to Cardiff in 2007.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really enjoy watching top class rugby but please, please, please ban the drop-goal. I hate it with a passion. It seems a sneaky, cheap way to get points and even win a match.

  • Comment number 11.

    Sitting in the stadium at half time it was pretty relaxed and remember NZ definitely had control in the first half but NZ made some changes in the back line in the second half and you could tell that they weren't comfortable despite Lomu's try. The first thing I remember was the French crowd starting to sing and before you know it they were attacking and back in the game. The vibe in the stands was getting electric and the French team turned on the pressure and some magic running that just blew us away and the AB's wilted. Man of the match - the guy 3 rows back on the left leading La Marseillaise.

  • Comment number 12.

    This will no doubtedly come back to bite me but i really fancy us to beat France. We nearly always turn them over, everyone talks about the French flair and unpredictability but apart from in Paris (occasionally) they rarely turn it on against us!!

    So i for one will be hoping for another cracking game but one in which NZ just edge at the death!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Olivier Magne...!!!!!!!
    Olivier Magne...!!!!!!!
    Olivier Magne...!!!!!!!

    He was the heartbeat of that French team. An amazing player.

    How the current England team could do with someone like him.....not in the back row, but in the centres! He has pace, a step, sublime vision, a kicking game.....

  • Comment number 14.

    wirral18, didn't they turn you over quite recently in NZ? having said that i also reckon NZ will win, france tend to turn it on in the knock outs and theres the incentive of an easier run in the knock outs for france if they come second in the group...

  • Comment number 15.

    Apologies my post made little sense, i meant as a neutral English fan. Very much looking forward to the game as hopefully it will be a cracker after watching a more probable snooze fest earlier in the morning!!

    Very much hoping for the NZ win though as I am confident in us beating France in the quarters (providing we beat the scots of course).

  • Comment number 16.

    @wirral18

    Confident in beating the French? did you not read the article?? be careful what you wish for!

  • Comment number 17.

    To be honest though, I can't see France winning this one. They normally beat the all blacks by working themselves into an emtional fervour and this might be difficult knowing they have a second chance.

    I could certainly see them playing their one good game of the tournament in the 1/4s however and then bottling it in the semis agianst Ire or Wales.

  • Comment number 18.

    How confident are you of defeating NZ if results don't go your way at the weekend?

  • Comment number 19.

    Even better - me and two mates couldn't get tickets, but we snuck into Twickenham free through the media entrance! What a day. I have never heard Twickenham so quiet - everyone was stunned.

  • Comment number 20.

    It was pretty quite in 1991 when Australia championed;-)

  • Comment number 21.

    What happened the All Blacks in 1995? A load of them were sick or something?

  • Comment number 22.

    I know this has nothing to really of with the article but seeing as there is no more 606 (won't go into too many reasons why). I'd just like to express my anger and dismay at yet another backwards step Mr Johnson has made in his team selection. I struggle to think what Hape has done to deserve to be dropped and even more so what Tindall has done to earn a place (likewise with Wilkinson and Flood).

  • Comment number 23.

    James think they were all out in the lash with Mike Tindal.

  • Comment number 24.

    lol...throwing dwarfs! that can strain the back alright.

  • Comment number 25.

    I remember the day of this match well although I didn't see the game. I was flying on Air New Zealand NZ1 from Heathrow to LA, with the plane continuing to Auckland via French Polynesia. The pilot gleefully announced the half time score to cheers from the Kiwi contingent and boos from the French.......and that was the last I heard about the match until I got off the plane!

  • Comment number 26.

    I remember it well as I had tickets for both semis but for family reasons could only go to one so I chose Australia v South Africa (which itself went to extra time if I recall) instead on the basis I had already seen NZ earlier in the tourney and it seemed likely to be the least competive match. Still it wasnt bad on tv! For England's sake in this WC I hope history doesn't repeat itself on saturday.

  • Comment number 27.

    "It was pretty quite in 1991 when Australia championed;-)"

    Good use of English for a start but ho hum.

    During this world cup i have enjoyed watching and supporting Walesand Ireland but have yet to see any Scotland matches. However I doubt I shall support our cousins from north of the border during any of their matches. I still remember the Australia v England world cup final and the look of delight on the Hasting's brothers faces when the camera panned onto them and guess what ........ ? the entire Scotland team were wearing Australia replica shirts!

    Anybody else remeber this lovely piece of support from our Celtic cousins?

  • Comment number 28.

    @20 It was quiet in 1991, the English seem to have their voices back. Luckily returned the favour of a world cup win in Australia's backyard in 2003.
    2003 and 2007, helping to heal the hurt :)

  • Comment number 29.

    France deserve to win an RWC! Their pedigree and history points to it. They have shipped a few 50 point losses in NZ, but everybody knows how well they can turn it on against them. Alez! Ciao

  • Comment number 30.

    I doubt France will beat the All Blacks in the pool, simply because it isn't in their interest to do so.

    If they come second, they'll probably play England, possibly Scotland or Argentina, and then either (probably) Wales or Ireland. If they come top, they'll play probably Scotland or Argentina, possibly England, and then either Australia or South Africa in the semi-final.

    They've already named a somewhat lacking side, so perhaps they're playing the long game...

  • Comment number 31.

    never ever write off the french.

  • Comment number 32.

    From our side of the Channel, we use to say "impossible is not french..."

    The 1999 Twickenham semi-final second time was the first and only time I cried in front of the TV.
    Expecting for fight and good play, I don't believed that actual french team is able to beat All Blacks next saturday, but later in the Cup, nothing is impossible!

    A french guy.

  • Comment number 33.

    I sat behind the posts in the sunshine for that wonderful semi-final with my girl friend (still is ) and a Kiwi friend. At half time he feared the worst despite leading. Glumly we sat watching Lamaison magic the ball to precise points behind the retreating AB,s. Ten pages of Le Monde were devoted to Le Match and it was great to say I was there. Having been in Paris the week before for the De Beering this was quite a relief.

  • Comment number 34.

    From a french perspective, we love to win against 2 teams :
    England (Le Crunch) the old foes, despite mutual respect.
    & All Blacks, it's always good to beat the top best.
    That '99 match definetly makes me adore rugby forever ! & above all Dominici try !

  • Comment number 35.

    Hello Daverichallen (posts 1 & 3). No idea what the odds on a French victory were - maybe someone else does.
    Don't be fooled by the name - I'm English - but I love the way the French play rugby. And generally detest the way the Home Nations play it. Backs receiving the ball standing still. So pedestrian. Kick, kick, kick. Webb-Ellis must turn in his grave wondering why he bothered picking the ball up in the first place.

  • Comment number 36.

    looks like Tana Umagais on his mobile in that last photo
    come on France

  • Comment number 37.

    @Typhoonkiwi #11 I have the same memories of the game. I remember reading newspaper reports on the train to Twickenham thinking that it would be a stroll and after Jonah scored early in the 2nd half I thought it was game over. The rest, as we know, is a wonderful entry into the history of RWC. But it's the singing and passionate support of France that remains with me- they were still singing outside the game afterwards! Growing up watching the All Blacks from the Millard Stand at Athletic Park I'd never seen or heard anything like it. I think that NZ enters most matches they play as the favourite and when they win there is more a sense of relief than anything else. France winning this game lead to celebration for their supporters and it was brilliant to see.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'll never forget talking to a shockingly bitter Kiwi in the pub after that game. "France doesn't even speak English" he said. "So why are they even in the World Cup?" I've enjoyed every All Black defeat ever since.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a kiwi I shook my head in dismay when I read that John Hart felt the AB's didn't get the "rub of the green" from Jim Fleming.

    And cue the gleeful commentators pointing out whinging Kiwi's blaming the refs for RWC exits.

    I don't know what the man was thinking bringing it up but rest assured 95% of New Zealanders (who follow rugby) have the utmost respect for the French team & the way they played in both 1999 & 2007. France deserved both victories.

    If you happen to meet one of the 5% just remember "there's ants at every picnic".

    In New Zealand we fear the French team over any other & recent history clearly show why. If you recall they beat the All Blacks last year & whitewashed them 2-0 in New Zealand in the early 90's.

  • Comment number 40.

    I doubt France will beat NZ but we'll see... It would definitely be good for the RWC if they did.

    The previous world cup wins for France against the All Blacks show what a difficult competition this is to win, even though the more established teams regularly beat the 'minnows'.

    Personally, I think the upsets make the competition worthwhile and I'm hoping to see a few more in this world cup.

    I'm English all the way, but I love watching talented teams like New Zealand perform to their best. If only they were able to prove that they're the best rather than just assuming it, they would have won almost every RWC so far!

  • Comment number 41.

    As an Englishman who'd seen England humiliated by Lomu's rampaging gang, I was off to Richmond Park on the train, disinterested in seeing the AB's cruise into the final. As it happened, I was dressed in black and the Kiwi's surrounding me on the train assumed I was with them. Having travelled halfway round the world for this game, they convinced me I should come watch and gave me a silver fern pin as an honorary Kiwi. So I went with them, found someone trying to offload a ticket for less than cover price and saw the game. First surprise was how many English and South Africans were there. Match went as expected (Lomu) until a loud old French bloke lead La Marseillaise. Out of Les Bleus, the French ran riot with the ball bouncing their way and some great kicking. When Bernat-Salles scored, even I was swept away with the emotion and French, English, South African, Australian all joined in La Marseillaise as the Kiwis looked on shell shocked.

  • Comment number 42.

    @KiwiRoyal #37 The closest I've been since '99 to that atmosphere at a rugby match was the Crusaders winning in Christchurch. Shame they are not hosting this year due to the EQ.

  • Comment number 43.

    I remember saying, many a time, that the French could be so bad that even San Marino could beat them; or they could play with such sublimity that not even God could beat them. The second half of this game was definitely one of those times; I've never seen rugby like it.

  • Comment number 44.

    I didn't want to watch the game that day... being French living in England I expected France to get hammered and I didn't want to witness that knowing that my wife had invited her best friend and her 'very' english husband: there so many 'Agincourt' reminders you can take in an hour...
    We went for a walk and came back for half time, put the telly on and for the following 45 minutes I witnessed the metamorphosis of a 'hard' England fan into the most 'bleu' supporter. Thank you to the support from Twinckenham crowd, it made the result even more special.

    Now for the game at the weekend? NZ to win very comfortably: France not interested in winning the group and usually only come up with a 'shock' during the KO phase.
    I agree with 17; France to win 1/4s against all expectations then lose against Wales in Semi

  • Comment number 45.

    brilliant game well brilliant 2nd half mind you, but one of the biggest myths in sport is that france are nz's bogey team at the wc, they have actually played 4 times both winning twice france in 99 and 2007 nz in 2003 and in a wc final 87. I suppose its a better story to say nz always choke against france than to say england always choke to SA in wc games?

  • Comment number 46.

    I was there. The match was pure magic and undoubtedly The Best Match ever.

    The Kiwis in the crowd were stunned. After 80 minutes the Air New Zealand switchboard must have been jammed with ashen-faced fans looking for an earlier flight home, a marked contrast with the smugness evident at The Cabbage Patch before the match.

    I only got to go to one match in the 2007 World Cup, but predicted another clash between Les Bleus and the All Blacks, in Cardiff, and I was not disappointed. Not quite such a shock, second time around, and not quite such an exciting match, but still some wonderful rugby to be seen.

    Make sure you set the video/Skybox/Tivo for tomorrow's match and hope that it is as thrilling as either of the two previous World Cup encounters. While I would like to see France win again, I would prefer them to lose so that they, rather than The Blacks, meet England in the quarter-final.

  • Comment number 47.

    It was the best of times it was the worst of times...

    My boss had two tickets to the 1999 Semi which he couldn't go to so he gave them to me. I couldn't believe my luck - he couldn't believe that I nearly exploded with joy.

    I took an English/Irish mate.

    At half time I turned to him and said, "if we play like this against the Aussies we'll be sunk".

    I shouldn't have worried, we never got near the Aussies.

    Watching the 33 unanswered points was like that proverbial nightmare where you try to run and are rooted to the spot - much like the All Blacks that day as it happens.

    My mate still recalls that all I could utter for the next couple of hours was a certain word beginning with "F".

    Shouldn't have been surprised, I remember the Bastille Day Test in 1979 when they tore us apart in NZ, and I think the 1994 series is ( and remains ) the only series won by a Northern Hemisphere side in NZ ( other than the Lions and not counting the one-off tests ).

  • Comment number 48.

    28.
    2003 was just rewards for having a great team thats for sure.

  • Comment number 49.

    38.
    Think your telling a porky pie there.

  • Comment number 50.

    Kiaora Porridge

    He may not be telling porkies - I was muttering "Rainbow Warrior" under my breath when I could say something other than the "F" word.

    Re the other blog - keep the saltire flying. NZ is as much a Scots colony as an English one.

    A lot of the people on the £10 Tugboat with Mum and Dad were Scots.

    We therefore had spectacular Hogmanay parties which ( strangely enough ) involved our Rangers mad "Uncle" singing The Sash, my Mum countering with "A Nation Once Again" - and everyone joining in both. All jolly and no trouble ( take note Adams and Paisley! )

    You'll be familiar with the concept of doing "a turn".

    The Maori contingent produced brilliant harmonies despite the lateness of the hour and the drink taken, and as the young Pakeha contingent ( me and my brothers ) didn't "do singing" we did the haka.

    They say a lack of sleep stunts your growth - I reckon I have that to blame.

  • Comment number 51.

    We were brought up north so managed to avoid all that Celtic/Rangers twaddle. Glaswegian mother and from Lochness side... but certainly know all about doing "a turn".
    The one thing we really miss from home is Hogmany and a bit of first footin'... smothing special about bring in the new year Scots fashion. Auch well at least duty at Auckland airport has a great selection Whisky... which I will be purchasing a bottle or three of in the next few days.
    Think my mum smoking through my pregnancy did for my height:-)

  • Comment number 52.

    This is way off topic but can France still lay claim to the best Anthem at the RWC now that Russia is involved. There are some good one's out there, USA's this morning, but still think it has to be out of France, Russia and maybe Japan.

    As an Aussie it depresses me when I hear great strong Anthems and then hear ours. Don't get me wrong I love Oz and will belt it out just that some others are just awesome.

  • Comment number 53.

    Davico

    Your anthem is great ( well it will be once you lot learn how to pronouce "advance" properly ).

    I love ours like a mother loves her ugliest son the most.

    God Defend New Zealand (cos nowadays we can't rely on anyone else and the 1 and 1/2 Skyhawks and the two Frigates are usually in the garage getting fixed ).

  • Comment number 54.

    Porridge

    My brother's mate in Christchurch is a Native Bluenose and there is lot's of banter about the Old Firm games. He travelled with us up to Glasgow and we visited the Wallace Memorial at Stirling and Parkhead and Ibrox. It was excellent.

    I don't know what you've found over there but my folks generation have a very closeknit bond forged I suppose from landing in a place where the pubs shut at 6pm and nobody sang. No matter what may have happened back in the Old Country.

    Emigration was a communal thing then, rather than single people getting on a plane and flying over as people do now.

    There's a lot to be said for it.

  • Comment number 55.

    I remember very well this game (especially the 2nd half).
    After the first half at home, i joined my brothers to my parent's home for the 2nd.

    When Dominici scored this famous try, I was almost in tears and shouting, we are the world champions (AB's team was the best in the world).

    The AB's clothes were so modern compare to the french, so jubilating to see Dominici with his BIG pair of shorts running like a rabbit and Lomu still looking for the ball in the air...

    Pure dead brilliant!

  • Comment number 56.

    Whoever comes 2nd in the group will likely miss the AB's/France (again), SA & Oz until the final, so I'm expecting a half-hearted game from both. However, if France DO lose & end up with the better draw looming, NZ still have the chance of putting out their minnows v. Canada in the last game & coming 2nd themselves!

    And that is assuming Ireland don't go & flip the table again by collapsing v. Italy (or getting too cocky v. Russia!) God knows they're capable of anything!

    Not much doubt though that the rest of the NH would-be qualifiers will be hoping NZ respect the odds & remain on the SH side of the draw.

  • Comment number 57.

    What is often forgotten about this match is the back-drop against which it was played. The French government had banned British beef exports due to the latest food scare at the time and anti-Gallic feeling was running high in the UK. The performance of the French team won over the British public and actually did a great deal to defuse Anglo-French political tensions.

    As for the All Blacks it was another case of the arrogantly believing their own publicity and like other southern hemisphere nations feeling they had a pre-ordained, God-given right to be crowned champions. Instead they were simply blown away by an inspired French performance that lived up to all their clichéd stereotypes of flair and unpredictability but similarly being unable to reproduce it when it ultimately mattered against Australia in the final.

  • Comment number 58.

    What I remembered clearly, and I just confirmed it by watching the end again, was that all the ABs with the exception of Jonah just walked of the pitch without so much as a wave to the crowd ...true some came back later obviously told to. And to hear that Randell could not face the Press is a disgrace. He was the captain and you front up win lose or draw you owe it to the supporters for and against. Every school boy is taught that or should be!

  • Comment number 59.

    Currently now living in NZ with my Kiwi wife and I cannot see France winning this.

    The fact is that France know a QF vs Oz or SA beckons for whoever wins this game so they would rather face England despite recent results.

    NZ are up for this and want revenge but the fact is that France's victories were all in knockout games and not in a pool game so France will let NZ have their day.

    My prediction is NZ to win easily - 46 to 17

  • Comment number 60.

    58.
    Shocking behaviour by the losing side and captain have to agree. Remember in April 2000 when England lost to Scotland - the Grand Slam gone - but won the Six Nations Championship? If I recall they ran from the field and refused to accept the Six Nations Trophy from Princess Anne... don't think they fronted the media that day either.
    The power of selective memory we all have it.

    59.
    Did not realise that England had actually qualified top of the group yet. Amazing that with two matches still to play. Currently it's still a three horse race for the top of Group B. I'm sure Australia are now wishing they had not counted their chickens before the had hatched.

  • Comment number 61.

    60

    Sorry Mate another one you got wrong. I remember the day well, I thought the ark was being built outside the ground it was raining so hard. Any way the Cal cup was presented to Scotland by Anne to the winners Scotland the 6 nations cup was not there for some inexplicable reason.....

  • Comment number 62.

    sorry meant 5 nations

  • Comment number 63.

    http://www.espnscrum.com/worldcup/rugby/story/30428.html?cmp=viral

    Think you might find that the Five Nations became the Six Nations in 2000. The point I was trying to make was that.
    Every team or player who lose out on something that they wanted really badly are more than capable of taking the huff at the games end.
    Yes Randel should have faced the media, just as Matt Dawson and England should have recieved their trophy.

  • Comment number 64.

    63

    As I said and as this report would imply for whatever reason states "for some reason the cup was not available" even the SRU and RFU agreed there was a cock up nothing to with England not wanting to receive the cup.......

    I know you wish to change history but really

  • Comment number 65.

    63.
    I've no interest in changing history as you put it. England lost two grandslams in a row. They took the huff and legged to the changing rooms. AB's lost a world cup semi final they expected to win, they too left the field and took the huff.
    To me both of these sides did not handle defeat well on the day... you can't see that though. In fact what you see is another sweaty sock having a go at England... some of you guys are getting really thin skinned.

  • Comment number 66.

    HAHAHA !
    In every AB-France "meeting", everybody give no chance to France !
    But..... We did !
    Graham Henry, Carter, McCaw, Williams know what I am talking about.

  • Comment number 67.

    63

    I have no idea what you are on about you can have a go at England as much as you want does not bother me and why you think it would just baffles me.

    But as you brought it up as a Scottish supporter you are hardly in a position to talk about England losing games or another team for that matter . Romania, Fiji, Canada have all beaten Scotland over the years and without doubt Scotland have been by far the worst British team in this world cup and frankly most of the others.

    Anyway as I said there was a cock up in 2000 that's is why England did not get to accept the Cup nothing to do with any HUFFs.

  • Comment number 68.

    Anyway as I said there was a cock up in 2000 that's is why England did not get to accept the Cup nothing to do with any HUFFs.

    Yea Right!

  • Comment number 69.

    68

    Thanks for agreeing at last ...took a bit of time though

  • Comment number 70.

    @60 - Yes England have not yet won the group but based on tonight they will have done so by the end of next Saturday!

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm not agreeing with you... on that very wet day in Edinburgh the England team legged it. The NEW Six Nations Trophy was there to be awarding to the Tournament Champions, but because they had just lost the grand slam for the second year on the trot had taken the huff and went straight to the changing rooms... whilst the secondary prize the Calcutta Cup was awarded to the Scots.
    England had already won the championship heading into the Calcutta Cup clash so you can't tell me that the organisers forgot the trophy... really? They were cheesed off with not winning the grand slam for two season in a row and took the huff... just as the AB's took the huff when France blew them out of the water in the second half at Twickenham.

  • Comment number 72.

    70.
    Would have to agree with you there... but as we all know. Stranger things have happened. If Scotland can - and its a big if - beat Argentina then anything can happen. But that would mean Scotland having to play their very very best two weeks in a row and I'm not sure they have that in them.

  • Comment number 73.

    71

    You have absolutely no basis to say that the English ran from the field. You may wish that to be the case to support your argument but just because you want something does not mean you can have it or that you are right...did you mother not teach you that ????

    And I did not say the organizers forgot the trophy what I said was " for some inexplicable reason" and it would appear from the announcements made by BOTH the SRU RFU that there was some sort of mix up.

    And why do you keep going on to me about England losing two Grands slams in a row???

    Now go to bed and have a hot toddy or whatever you Scots do to sooth your worried brow.

  • Comment number 74.

    70

    read and weep

    But as you brought it up as a Scottish supporter you are hardly in a position to talk about England losing games or another team for that matter . Romania, Fiji, Canada have all beaten Scotland over the years and without doubt Scotland have been by far the worst British team in this world cup and frankly most of the others.

  • Comment number 75.

    70.
    Your trying to get a bit personal there Runningnumber8.

    We know that the trophy was that the stadium, we know that the Calcutta Cup was awarded to Scotland... we also know that Matt Dawson - England Captain - and his team went straight to the changing rooms. To say they did not know that the Six Nations Trophy would be awarded to them is just plain silly... they were already champions before kick off... they just never won the Grand Slam.
    Here look if it makes you feel better I can empathise with them... they had just let a Grand Slam slip from their grasp for the second year running.

    Read and weep... the vast majority of Scottish Rugby fans are well prepared for failure, remember we are used to it;-)
    The big question is how are you going to cope if things go Scotlands way over the next two weekends? Now away and roll yer socks doon tae yer ankles and throw yer cap in the air and shouting hurra harra!

  • Comment number 76.

    All Blacks 37 France 17. Arise Sir Richie! We salute you. 100 tests down and still going - http://bit.ly/pfKPhd

  • Comment number 77.

    70

    Personal no just pointing out to you that you have no basis to say that England left the field in a huff.



    You want that to be the truth because of your obvious hatred of England as noted by this rant and the many other postings you have made. As others have said you need to get out more buddy I fear for your kids all you appear to do is sit on your computer all day making idiotic and incorrect statements ...we all had a laugh at your so called rugby knowledge, or should I say lack of it, with your predictions of a week or so ago.

    As for things going Scotlands way not sure what you mean but whatever they do it will not effect me.....

  • Comment number 78.

    70


    And while I am on this thread I will say one thing. I have noticed that as soon as someone disagrees with anything you say, which is so so often mainly because you are so wrong about so much, and you are peddling backwards you pull the "oh getting personal now card".....

    Mate you need to lighten up and have a life

    And, although you will not believe this, the reason I KNOW that England did not run from the field that day is because I was in the English changing room not as a player mind you but non the less there.....

 

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