Deja vu all over again
October 17, 2011
Fullback Israel Dagg dotted when New Zealand and France met in the pool stages last month © Getty Images
It is very much a case of history repeating itself as the All Blacks and France collide in Auckland on Sunday evening for the right to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
The pair contested the final the last time the tournament was staged in New Zealand some 24 years ago, with the hosts prevailing 29-9 before a crowd of just under 50,000 at Eden Park courtesy of tries from flanker Michael Jones, scrum-half and captain David Kirk and winger John Kirwan, as well as 17 points from the boot of fly-half Grant Fox.
The two sides have met four times in interim, sharing two wins apiece, with the All Blacks prevailing in their pool clashes and the French triumphing in both of their subsequent encounters in the knockout stages.
France's victory at Twickenham in 1999 is, of course, the stuff of legend, Les Bleus coming from 14 points down early in the second half against a Jonah Lomu-inspired New Zealand to run out 43-31 winners in the most scintillating fashion.
The All Blacks gained a modicum of revenge for that shock loss by routing the French 40-13 in Sydney four years later but the Kiwis were left shaking their heads in disbelief once more in 2007 when they were upset 20-18 by Les Bleus after a remarkable quarter-final contest in Cardiff. To this day, New Zealand fans still blame referee Wayne Barnes for that defeat for failing to spot a forward pass in the build-up to Yannick Jauzion's crucial try but many neutrals felt that the French warranted their victory after a stirring second-half display.
Regardless, the All Blacks appeared to exorcise a few demons by sweeping France aside in the pool stages of this year's tournament, with Israel Dagg accounting for two of their five tries as they romped to a 37-17 success in Auckland. However, Graham Henry and his troops will remain very wary of a France side which retains a habit of producing a performance out of nowhere against the Kiwis when it really matters.
New Zealand v France
All-time record: Played: 50 New Zealand won 37, France, 12, drawn 1
Biggest winning margin: NZ: 51 (61-10, Wellington 2007); Fra: 13 (16-3, Nantes 1986)
Highest score: NZ: 61 (61-10, Wellington 2007); Fra: 43 (43-31 Twickenham 1999);
Most tries: NZ: 9 (61-10, Wellington, 2007); Fra: 4 (43-31, Twickenham, 1999)
Most points (individual): NZ: 118 Dan Carter; Fra: 71 Christophe Lamaison
Most tries (individual): NZ: 8 Joe Rokocoko ; Fra: 3 Serge Blanco and Philippe Saint-Andre
Previous World Cup meetings: 5 (NZ 29-9 Fra, Auckland 1987; NZ 31-43 Fra, Twickenham 1999; NZ 40-13 Fra, Sydney 2003; NZ 18-20 Fra, Cardiff 2007; NZ 37-13 Fra, Auckland 2011)
Click here for New Zealand's Test record courtesy of Statsguru
Click here for France's Test record courtesy of Statsguru
Click here for a record of all New Zealand v France matches courtesy of Statsguru
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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