While the All Blacks' emotions churned over the loss of the Dave Gallaher Cup, there is no doubt how France were feeling after the two-test rugby series was squared 1-1 on Saturday.

Despite losing the second test 14-10, French coach Marc Lievremont and his players were a happy bunch in their Westpac Stadium changing rooms as they passed around their new acquisition, named after one of the most revered All Blacks.

"The feeling is a feeling of pride," Lievremont said through a translator. "The All Blacks said they had lost the battle but they were going to win the war. I think having won the trophy, we won the war."

France become holders for the first time since the silverware was introduced in 2000 because of a rule change.

Previously, the winners of just one selected test in a New Zealand-France series would be holders. However, it is now decided on points differential and, with France having won the first test in Dunedin 27-22, they eked out the narrowest of overall margins - 37-36.

Halfback Piri Weepu was clearly stung by the loss of the trophy, admitting he had no idea that a six-point win was needed to keep it.

"You expect it to be you win two games and you lift the trophy ... it's pretty ridiculous but we've got to take it on the chin," he said, believing the method used to determine the Bledisloe Cup holders was superior.

Weepu regretted having kicked the ball into touch after the full-time hooter sounded, admitting he would have kept the ball alive if he knew what was at stake. "I probably would have set something up, either to score or have a drop kick," he said.

"Those sort of things you've got to know or be told. For us coming into the changing rooms and finding out that we lost a trophy because we didn't score six points was kind of stupid to some of us."

Henry defended his decision not to ask the players to chase more points in the dying minutes.

"We didn't pass that information on, we thought it was important that they concentrate on the test match," Henry said.

"They didn't need that extra information to put extra pressure on a side that is relatively young."

Such a stance runs against the oft-stated importance placed on the trophy by the All Blacks, which honours New Zealand's first test rugby captain.

The charismatic Dave Gallaher captained the touring "Originals" to Europe in 1905 and was killed on the Belgian fields of Passchendaele in World War 1. Recent All Blacks teams have visited Gallaher's grave there.

Assistant coach Steve Hansen believed the priority was victory.

"We thought we made the right decision at the time," he said.

"Hindsight's a beautiful thing and if we all had it, we'd probably be living different lives."

- NZPA