Playing in front of a passionate crowd at Stade de France, Les Bleus started the tournament opener “in the worst possible way” as they conceded a try after just 91 seconds.
Ramos’ accuracy off the goal-kicking tee kept France in the contest when the All Blacks risked adding to their score – but their inability to turn pressure into points ultimately cost them.
It was an extremely tense match until about the 64th minute when Les Bleus began to pull away. The tournament hosts piled on 11 points at the business end as they ran away with a hard-fought win.
Coach Fabien Galthie said “it was important to get off to a good start” in this tournament against one of the tournament favourites New Zealand.
“It was important to get off to a good start after all the work we’ve put in preparing for this match. We were under a lot of pressure in the first half, and we found it hard to break free,” Galthie told reporters.
“They scored very early, rather easily. Then we lost Julien Marchand. We started the match in the worst possible way – but that’s all part of the game.
“We got a bit caught up in the atmosphere. But we went into the dressing room in front, thanks to our discipline.
“Then in the second half, our finishers enabled us to regain control of the match, but not immediately. Again, they scored from our mistakes when we could have done better.
“But we won the arm-wrestle. That enabled us to keep in touch with New Zealand, particularly in our weaker moments, and then meant we regained control of the second half, and also meant Thomas Ramos could keep us in touch with his kicking.”
“At the end of the day, it’s a heavy score in our favour.
“We didn’t expect this atmosphere. It was very tense, even in the stands. We’re not used to this kind of atmosphere.”
The crowd at Stade de France was nothing short of incredible. Rugby fans would struggle to find a better atmosphere than the one both seen and heard in Paris on Friday night.
While it’s true that the supporters were especially loud close to full-time, their love for the sport goes well beyond the 80 minutes on the field.
Thousands of rugby lovers refused to bow down to the sweltering conditions as they began to mingle with rugby supporters from around the world at the fan zone in Paris during the day.
That same buzz was felt at the stadium hours later, too. Les Bleus were joined by almost 80,000 rugby fans, including footballer Kylian Mbappe, in singing ‘La Marseillaise’ just before the Test.
“Massive support. Fantastic to get a stadium like this. We are looking forward to the next game,” player of the match Gregory Alldritt said.
“We said if we lost it was not the end of the World Cup. We are not champions now. We just need to keep working and go step by step.”