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Has Fozzie been foxing? Ireland beware, the All Blacks could be about to reignite

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Roar Guru
9th October, 2023
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If All Blacks coach Ian Foster wins the Rugby World Cup 2023 will all be forgiven?

In my previous article summing up Foster’s All Blacks coaching career, some said “no”. I tend to disagree, if he and his coaching team are successful, previous losses will be forgotten and he will always be remembered as the coach who piloted the All Blacks to World Cup victory.

Such an outcome will probably lessen the importance of Test matches in between Rugby World Cups even more and they will serve as building blocks towards the four-year Holy Grail. Is that wrong? There has been talk about a World Championship similar to Test cricket taking place which I believe is good in theory.

But back to the All Blacks, I watched footage of the 2015 RWC matches which has reignited a desire to see the All Blacks go all the way and win this year’s event, yes I have been a critic of the team but it is this criticism which elevates standards to an elite level.

Has much changed since the losses to South Africa and France and have the recent annihilations of Italy and Uruguay clouded the picture even further? The style of victories has been pleasing with Ian Foster asking the question which version of rugby would we prefer to watch, All Black or South African?

Running rugby will always appeal to new fans in the international version and it is those fans who will cement the sustainability of rugby union. Dare I believe the All Blacks will play this style against their quarter-final opponents Ireland?

I did ask the question recently, have the All Blacks been foxing a little with their ability to flick the switch to a fast-paced game when absolutely necessary, the stuff that dreams are made of, we will know on 14th October!

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Ian Foster. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

For the sake of rugby I sincerely hope that a 15 man blitzing of Ireland occurs! Or will the All Blacks revert to the meek style first sighted in the previous RWC against England? Time will tell.

My wish for Cam Roigard to promote himself to the big stage appears to be happening and the same could be said for Damian McKenzie. Players including Shannon Frizell, with Ethan Blackadder off the bench, who are not intimidated by the reputations of their opposition will be vital to the All Blacks progressing.

Controlled aggression will win more matches than lose. I was going to mention the Battle of Nantes in 1986 between France and the All Blacks as an example but that may be a little extreme! Speaking of the French, I wrote this back in August:

“Quarter finals start on the 14th of October and I anticipate Australia v Argentina in QF1, Ireland v France in QF2, England v Wales in QF3, NZ v South Africa in QF4. Of course, this is just guesswork as anything could happen, Wales could win Pool C, South Africa could win Pool B, Argentina could pip England and France could/will win Pool A.

If it all went to plan though, Australia should beat Argentina to reach the semi-final against France, England to beat Wales to meet NZ in the semi.
France to defeat Australia and NZ to conquer England to meet France in the final.
The dream final, don’t you think? I wonder who the French citizens are hoping for?”

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The end result is still possible for the All Blacks to meet France in the final but the means has changed dramatically with the demise of Australia being the biggest talking point. Now it will be Wales v Argentina, Ireland v NZ, England v Fiji and France v South Africa in the quarter-finals.

My earlier tournament prediction for an All Blacks exit at the quarter-finals is also still active but a glimmer of hope has been lit with recent victories. Will the All Blacks’ knowledge and experience of past World Cup victories as opposed to Ireland’s nil balance play a part in their match? The pressure will be enormous on Ireland to break their traditional failings.

There are so many predictions and permutations that it is wiser to not make any at all, but expressing one’s opinion on sports results is a core component of being a fan and a writer.

Will Ian Foster take the All Blacks to victory and will it erase past failings? Has it been a coaching masterstroke to lull the rugby world into believing the “aura” around the All Blacks has diminished, lulling the opposition into a false sense of security?

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I jest, but do dream of an All Blacks team marching to glory playing an enterprising brand of attacking rugby. Ireland are looking good and it will take an exceptional All Blacks performance to beat them.

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