Reliving 'The Try from the End of the World' against All Blacks

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Players from the 23-20 win, which followed their 22-8 first Test win in Christchurch in 1994, recounted memories of the game and that try in Midi Olympique.

The try, scored four minutes from the end of the Test, had its origins in captain and wing Philippe Saint-Andre's refusal to accept defeat and running the ball from 80 metres out. The ball passed through nine pairs of hands and, in 27 seconds, created a try for fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny. That is still regarded as the most beautiful try conceived in the French game.

It capped a great tour by the side. Saint-Andre said, "We were away for six weeks with 11 games, we were super well-prepared by [coach] Pierre Berbizier. I remember that lock Olivier Merle had to cut a hold in his belt, he had never felt so skinny."

So, physical fitness was a significant contributor to the effort.

Saint-Andre said, "I still get talked to about it regularly. It made its mark on rugby lovers for a lot of reasons."

The move started when Saint-Andre took a long kick from All Blacks' first five-eighths Steve Bachop inside the French 22m area.

Merle said: "We had fought well, we still believed in it, we were waiting for something. I turned my back on the All Blacks, I put myself in the axis of the ball to hinder their progress and immediately understood that it was going to be moved."

Before receiving the ball, Saint-Andre told his Sadourny, "The next kick, even if it's not good, we'll turn it on."

Taking the ball, Saint-Andre ran hard at the All Blacks chasers. That took wing John Kirwan out of the play. Saint-Andre beat hooker Sean Fitzpatrick but was stopped by lock Ian Jones. A ruck developed, and the movement was launched.

Saint-Andre said that having hit the button to run, he had to find support yet save time.

"I decided to run because we had to keep the ball on the field to make the All Blacks run and put them under pressure because we felt they were struggling.

"It starts again from the ruck. The forwards were warned that something could happen, and you could see the speed with which they prepared themselves.

"Xavier Blond, 26, a forward replacement, was injured in the ruck and would never play for France again. I was seriously injured, a torn cruciate ligament, but that did not affect my happiness in what followed.

"The two props, Laurent Benezech and Christian Califano, arrived first, and hooker Jean Michel Gonzalez suddenly discovered a vocation as a halfback.

Gonzales passed to first five-eighths Christophe Deylaud, who ran straight towards halfway.

Gonzalez said, "I decided to pass because we told ourselves we had to keep the ball on the field to make the All Blacks run because they were feeling it physically.

Deylaud said, "We knew we risked everything by running, but I suspected the ball would be moved quickly.

"I stayed in the same direction because I saw we were going into wing Jonah Lomu's side of the field because we knew he was very strong, but still having problems defending his side of the field.

"We had worked extensively with Berbizier, especially to challenge Lomu.

Christophe Deylaud accelerates and passes to blindside flanker Abdelatif Benazzi, who makes a breach.

Benazzi said, "I feinted a pass, and then I looked back to Emile [Ntamack-win]. It was the first time I had done something like this, but we were in the heat of the moment.

Benazzi steers towards [Matt] Cooper [second five-eighths] and found Ntamack to his right.

Ntamack turned inside, avoiding a player or two, then passed to supporting flanker Laurent Cabannes, who ran infield.

Cabannes executed a reverse pass that put the All Blacks' defenders, halfback Stu Forster and centre Frank Bunce off the scent and saw the ball moved to replacement hooker Delaigue, who ran left into open space. All Blacks wing John Timu comes across in defence, and to be sure of the try, Delaigue passed to Accoceberry, who also worried about the cover defence and passed to Sadourny.

Sadourny said: "When Guy received the ball I thought he was going to score, but I was in support and when I saw Timu catching him, I called, and he sent me the ball and I just had to dive in."

Saint-Andre acknowledged Accoceberry's decision because many players in his position would have tried to score on his own. But he made sure of the try by passing the ball.


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