Black days in France - rare times when Les Bleus prevailed

Andrew Mehrtens - saved the All Blacks in Paris, but they were well beaten in Marseille. Photo / Photosport.
Andrew Mehrtens - saved the All Blacks in Paris, but they were well beaten in Marseille. Photo / Photosport.

The All Blacks have a fine record in France and most notably in Paris, but it doesn't always go well. New Zealand have won 17 of 24 tests in France and nine of 11 in Paris, but these three games bucked the trend.

1973: France 13, New Zealand 6; Parc de Princes - Paris.
The only defeat in Paris. The third and final version of the historic Parc de Princes had been opened less than a year when France tipped over Ian Kirkpatrick's All Blacks, who had just completed an unbeaten campaign against the Home Countries.

Tours were a different enterprise then - this was the 32nd game for Captain Kirky and co. This included three non-test games in France after losing to the Barbarians in a magnificent match at Twickenham.

France scored two tries to none, New Zealand's points arriving via Joe Karam penalties. It was a fairly dour game, drenched by rain in the second half, before a crowd of 55,000. The Walter Spanghero-led France were worthy winners against a tired touring outfit.

2000: France 42, New Zealand 33; Stade Velodrome - Marseille.
The last defeat on French soil. Todd Blackadder's side had won the first test in Paris where Andrew Mehrtens landed nine penalties, as he had done against Australia a year earlier.

But they were well beaten in the second. This was the first rugby international at the Mediterranean port city, and the French team responded with a lap of honour before the game as the 66,000 crowd stood to greet them. Captain Fabien Pelous said this added pressure, but they "felt something extraordinary was about to happen".

The home team immediately delivered on the promise by storming to a 17 - 0 lead which was cut to two points by halftime. France powered home in the final quarter with flyhalf Christophe Lamaison adding dropped goals to finish with 27 points, with each side scoring three tries.


2002: France 20, New Zealand 20; Stade de France - Paris.
A game which should have been lost, but for a bizarre ending in which in-form France - the Six Nations Grand Slam winners - were robbed by bad luck.

The All Blacks had just been pipped by England at Twickenham, while France had thumped South Africa 30 - 10 in Marseille where Francois Gelez kicked 20 points.

This is the closest the All Blacks have come to defeat in five tests at the Stade de France. The game was something of a shocker, with the All Blacks having prop Kees Meeuws, fullback Christian Cullen and second five-eighths Mark Robinson yellow carded in the first half.

Gelez had the winning of the game with a straight 40 metre penalty with time almost up. But the ball fell over as he approached it, Gelez picked it up, hesitated, then attempted to run. Australian referee Scott Young called a halt, ruled a scrum to New Zealand, and the draw stood.

- NZ Herald

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