While the French rugby team were getting stuck into pre-test training in Auckland a group of young New Zealanders were heading to France on a mission of their own.
Their objective was to win the Howard Hinton Sevens in Tours, one of the largest and most prestigious sevens tournaments played in France.
A New Zealand Select team was put together and coached by Tauranga brothers Rueben and Matua Parkinson, and managed by Te Puke school principal Bruce Jepson, who all share a strong connection with the Hinton family.
The Kiwis surprised all in beating a strong national French development side 24-14 in the final.
Howard Hinton was raised in Te Puke and played rugby for the United Pirates club before playing nine seasons in Tours. Tragically he passed away aged just 33 and his club in Tours wanted to play a tournament in his memory.
So began the Howard Hinton Sevens. This month was the 22nd successive year and featured a large contingent of international teams up against some of France's finest players, as well as women, club and social categories.
The Parkinsons assembled a team at short notice including Rangataua's Adam McGarvey, Roha Dalton-Reedy and Connor McLeod, Te Aihe Toma and Rewita Biddle from Te Puna and Teddy Stanaway from Mount Maunganui.
New Bay of Plenty recruit Trael Joass was also in the team that was filled with Auckland-based players.
It was Reuben Parkinson's second stint coaching a side at the Howard Hinton Sevens.
"Three years ago my brother-in-law Bruce Jepson (related to Howard Hinton) was approached to get a New Zealand team to come over and I took a team over with Paul Tietjens.
"It is a really strong competition you know, top grade, and a lot of the top French club teams come to play. So it says a lot for the strength of New Zealand rugby that we can scrape together a team the week before, have three trainings in France and beat the French B team convincingly in the final."
So what was the secret to the Kiwis winning the tournament?
"Teddy, Te Aihe and Trael were awesome for our team just with that experience, but the biggest thing above all else with our team was our ability to build culture in the team really quickly," Parkinson says.
"I think, technically, we were okay with guys in crucial positions but it was the culture that galvanised the boys and they ended up dying for each other. And that is really hard to do in such a short time."
Nearly all the New Zealand Select team were of Māori descent which, Parkinson says, was a big factor in their success.
"We really pulled on the old Māori heartstrings and the boys had their own Māori songs and they practised the haka a few times. The Māori influence and the Māori culture was a really strong factor in the team."
Born in Te Puke in 1963 to well-known locals Helen and Owen Hinton, he was one of four children.
Played rugby for United Pirates (now Te Puke Sports) and Te Puke High School First XV.
Went to Tours, France, to play rugby and spent nine seasons there with his girlfriend since high school days, Aneta Bird. The couple returned to NZ in 1995 and Hinton became a lecturer in sport and leisure at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.
He became ill with liver cancer and died on May 27, 1996.