It feels a little like the world has been upside down when the All Blacks come to France with their discipline under a cloud and their opponent fearful of their flair.

Isn't it supposed to be the other way round? Aren't the French cursed with a notoriously volatile temperament that has often seen them lose the plot one minute only to play breathtakingly beautiful rugby the next?

Not now. Or at least not this week as a result of the All Blacks being shown three yellow cards in the last three weeks, two players cited, one suspended and their conduct relentlessly questioned since they beat Ireland 21-9.

There's no doubt perspective has gone missing to some extent in trying to evaluate whether the All Blacks were wild and unhinged in Dublin. They were not the ogres some said they were, but nor were they without fault.


Discipline was a problem, just not as much of a problem as some have said. And because it was a problem, it has been addressed by the coaching staff.

Their message was essentially to cut out the needless penalties - to work harder at staying at onside and to keep the point of contact on defence well below the shoulders.

"The penalty count [in Ireland] was 14-4 and I don't think the four was a fair reflection - I don't think that was consistent," says All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. "But the 14 were spot on and we can't argue with that because when you look at them they were obvious penaties apart from Nugget [Aaron Smith's] sin-binning which was a no-brainer: the ball was out and he kicked the ball.

"[World Rugby referees boss] Allain Rolland confirmed that with me on Monday that it shouldn't have been a yellow card. It shouldn't have been a penalty. What he did was fine.

"So how many of the other 13 were avoidable? Well, the high tackles were avoidable unless they are a collision like Sammy's [Sam Cane] one. But the other ones were too high and as a result we have a player not selected, so of course we have got talk about it. The other area where we are giving away too many free kicks is on the edge of the ruck - coming offside by stepping forward too early. We have talked about that as well because it allows teams to stay in the game and the difference between applying and absorbing pressure is sometimes those penalties.

"And in Ireland we had to absorb a lot of pressure because we let them off the hook with poor discipline. We wouldn't be doing an honest review if we didn't deal with that."

It's the brainless stuff that has been a coach killer on this tour. Too many times the All Blacks have casually transgressed at times when they were beginning to mount pressure.

To give away 14 penalties as they did in Dublin was criminal and it left them playing without the ball and in their own territory for long periods. It also meant they spent most of the game tackling and not attacking.

"What we say is that we don't want any stupid ones," says Hansen. "Some you can't avoid. It might be a scrum collapse and the referee is going to make a decision and it might be right and it might be wrong and these are the ones that we can't avoid.

"But silly offsides and high tackles you can. Stepping round to the edge of the ruck to attack the halfback when he hasn't picked the ball up is poor communication by the defensive line and someone being impatient. Being edgy. They are avoidable."