Dark night say French media

NZPA     14 Nov 2006    

Black Night, Black Lesson and Black Future were headlines in three different newspapers, mirroring the reaction after New Zealand beat the French 45-6 at Paris two years ago.

Sports daily L'Equipe devoted its first four pages to France's "pulverised team".

It's glaring back page headline was "Reduits A Neant" (Reduced to Naught) over a photograph of captain Richie McCaw busting a tackle with a clutch of All Blacks forwards in support.

Inside, a story headlined "Simplement foudroyes" (Simply Blasted) recounted France's poor recent record against New Zealand.

It questioned the methods of coach Bernard Laporte, who had won just one of his eight Tests against New Zealand -- early in his tenure in 2000 -- and had since suffered several heavy defeats.

In its player assessments, New Zealand flankers Jerry Collins and McCaw were given the highest marks of 8.5 out of 10, along with first five-eighth Daniel Carter.

Among the French players, only No 8 Elvis Vermeulen and second five-eighth Yannick Jauzion managed to achieve four out of 10 in a sorry breakdown. The entire starting tight five was awarded 2.5.

French rugby president Bernard Lapasset compared the night to a "cold shower, glacial" and said improvements were needed quickly ahead of the World Cup.

The front page headline in Lyon's main Sunday newspaper Le Progres Chaque Dimanche didn't need interpreting -- "Humilies".

Not only were the French humiliated but they were seemingly forlorn ahead of the second match, with Laporte telling the newspaper he "didn't know" how he could turn around his team's fortunes before the second Test at Paris in less than a week.

The paper highlighted some positives from the evening -- how tickets had sold out for the Test, the polite crowd acceptance of the All Blacks haka and the quality of the food available to media before the match.