Forner, 22, had only represented France at nine tournaments before taking the field at HBF Park on Friday morning. It might’ve been his best performance in the famed blue jersey, too.
Drawn in a pool of death alongside New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, the Frenchman shot out of the blocks with a statement 33-17 win over the All Blacks Sevens on Australia’s west coast.
— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) January 26, 2024
Forner opened the scoring in just the second minute and the youngster added another score on either side of the break to secure a headline-grabbing hat-trick for France.
New Zealand couldn’t hold on. It wasn’t even that close in the end with a try to Cody Vai in the 16th minute making the score a tad more respectable for the reigning world champions.
“It feels amazing for us. The last three or four times we’ve played each other it’s been really close and they’ve edged in front,” Frenchman Aaron Grandidier Nkanang told RugbyPass.
“For us to have a good win like this today really puts us in good stead for the rest of the competition.
“I’m so proud of him,” he added when asked about teammate Theo Forner.
“Theo is one of the most naturally talented players we have on the team so when we get to see him express himself like that, it brings us a smile to all of our faces.”
It’s an important win for Les Bleus who continue to stamp their mark on the new-look SVNS Series after a slow start in Dubai last month.
France secured a ninth-place finish with a win over Great Britain in the desert before bouncing back with an improved showing in Cape Town a week later.
But it’s all leading to the Paris Olympics in six months. Franc are the hosts and they’ll be eager to put on a show when they take the field at Stade de France.
By then, France’s 15s star Antoine Dupont is expected to be among their ranks. The former World Rugby Player of the Year joined the squad in camp earlier this month for the first time.
“Any player or member of staff has to do a little initiation for us. It’s not anything particularly strange, it’s just 10 burpees,” Grandidier Nkanang said.
“He just did his burpees and we had him for the rest of the day.
“It was nice to get to meet him, to get to know him a bit better because obviously, I’ve only known him from the TV.
“I’m excited to see what he can bring to the team.”