Kirwan backs push for more games
Blues coach John Kirwan and his French rival Philippe Saint-Andre got as much of a thrill out of their sides' contest, won by the French 38-15 at North Harbour Stadium on Tuesday night.
They shared a beer, along with the two teams in the Blues dressing room afterwards because, as Saint-Andre said: "We have a big game at the weekend so there was no alcohol in our dressing room."
And they shared a belief that rugby must return to such benefits from a bygone era.
Kirwan said: "Our lineout got put under a lot of pressure and we lost a lot of ball. The breakdown is very different in the northern hemisphere, you've got to be a lot quicker to attach and clean out. They were really good learnings but I just think it was a fantastic experience for our guys and I was just proud of the attitude and the way they stuck at it by going hard.
"It was just a great evening for rugby with some key learnings for our young football team to take away," he said.
The players were sharing a beer and had swapped jerseys and were talking with each other and while there had been nothing on the outcome of the game, the Blues had learned 'heaps', Kirwan said.
Blues captain James Parsons said the game had been a level higher than what the side had experienced before.
"I think we brought the right attitude as well, we wanted a physical contest and we took that on our shoulders. In the second half we changed our game plan a bit and got a bit tighter.
"The bodies will be sore tomorrow but I'll tell you what, it's something I'll never forget," he said.
"It's the ultimate feeling. Some guys never get to play international rugby but I'll be able to tell my grandkids one day that I played the French, even got a dot [try] which is nice and got a jersey I can chuck up on my wall and I can say that is the first day I captained the Blues against the French and it is a very proud moment and I think the more we can have these games the better," he said.
Parsons said having a chance for second tier players to play international games could be one way of stopping the numbers of players heading off-shore.
"I think if we could get more and more midweek games then more and more people would stay," he said.