All Blacks may yet wear black against France

NZPA     03 Oct 2007

The All Blacks look likely to wear their alternate grey jerseys after manager Darren Shand lost the toss to determine who gets first choice on playing uniforms.

Their only saviour could be Rugby World Cup organisers, who were today considering which New Zealand jersey looked least like the deep dark blue strip France have adopted for this tournament.

Trying to avoid the clash of similar outfits that marred the recent pool game against Scotland, organisers were today conducting tests to assess whether the All Blacks' traditional black jersey or the composite "away" strip would provide the best outcome.

A decision was expected tomorrow.

If the All Blacks are forced to wear grey -- or gris in French -- Laporte joked that it would justify his decision this week to refer to his opponents as New Zealand rather than the All Blacks.

"It's even more accurate given the fact they'll be playing in grey," he said through an interpreter.

French captain Raphael Ibanez took a more conciliatory stance.

"It's disappointing for the All Blacks and for us too because historically between us, when you imagine France against New Zealand, you see the French team in blue and New Zealand in black," Ibanez said.

"For me what's most important is what you've got inside your body, what you want to give to the team.

"It won't matter if they wear blue, pink or nothing."

Ibanez poured cold water on comments that the French team had deliberately selected a dark blue strip for this tournament to score psychological points if the All Blacks had to change.

"Sometimes you cannot control the aspect of marketing in this business, in professional rugby," he said.

"We have so much respect for this team, whatever you call them."

New Zealand coach Graham Henry is clearly not a believer in the power of a jersey colour, shoving the issue aside today.

"Quite frankly, I can't be bothered getting into that stuff, I don't think it's important," he said.

"It's information we don't need to worry about. We try to control what we can control.

"If we have to play in the alternative strip ... we'll just get on with it."