Baby Blacks 'disappointed' and 'gutted' after shock semi-final loss to France at World Cup

The Baby Blacks have summarised this morning's shock under 20s World Cup semi-final loss to France with two words - "gutted" and "disappointed".

The New Zealand U20s won't have a chance to defend last year's title after losing to France 16-7 in Perpignan this morning, thanks to a dominant performance from the French forward pack.

The Kiwi attacking flair struggled to get into the game until the 70th minute when Harry Plummer crossed the line, but mistakes continuously cost them in their attempts to meet England in the final.

Captain Tom Christie was proud of his team's determination to the final whistle but couldn't deny his emotions after the game.

"I'm immensely gutted at the result but I'm very far from disappointed with my lads. My lads played with a lot of heart and a lot of pride," he said.

"I think we were unlucky sometimes and, yes, some of our mistakes were sometimes from our (unforced) errors, but I can't fault my boys ... they played with immense pride out there.

"Rugby is a game you never want to lose. But it has got that competitive edge so there is always going to be a winner and a loser and sometimes you end up on the wrong side."

Head coach Craig Philpott said he was sure there wouldn't be any less motivation for the side in their bronze playoff with South Africa.

"I'm sure there won't be any lack of desire to want to finish the tournament really well."

The Baby Blacks play South Africa at 2:30am NZT on Monday in Beziers with the final taking place immediately afterwards.


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'He's very in the mix for the World Cup' - Hansen admits requesting NZR board bend eligibility rules for Matt Todd

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has admitted he submitted a request to New Zealand Rugby to allow Matt Todd to be selected for this year's end-of-year tour despite the fact he isn't eligible under current rules.

Todd is currently playing for the Panasonic Wild Knights after finishing his Super Rugby campaign with the Crusaders earlier this year, which would mean under normal circumstances he would be ineligible for the black jersey.

However, Hansen named Todd in his main 32-man unit as part of the larger 51-strong squad for this year's end-of-year tour, despite missing the cut earlier this year in both the French series and Rugby Championship.

"There's been no change of heart," Hansen said regarding the selection pattern around Todd.

Hansen told media Todd's selection was possible because he was returning to the Crusaders rugby next year.

"He's committed to New Zealand so when we lost Sam Cane, he's the obvious guy to replace Sam.

"He's very much in the mix for next year's World Cup."

However, Hansen admitted he did have to request to get Todd back in black.

"We went to the NZR board and requested that we use him with the understanding that he's coming back to play for the Crusaders. Thankfully they agreed."

The 30-year-old has earned 14 caps for the All Blacks since making his debut off the bench against France in 2013.

Todd is playing rugby in Japan but Steve Hansen says with him returning to the Crusaders, the NZR allowed him to make the cut. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Steve Hansen shuts down reporter's challenge about Government funding for All Blacks

Steve Hansen has quashed the connection between his ongoing campaign for Government funding and the selection of an extremely big and financially-draining squad for this year's end-of-year tour.

Hansen announced a 51-man squad for the Japan and Northern Tour today and was challenged by one reporter why he picked such a large team when he's also asking for funding.

"Well firstly, we've asked the Government to be our sponsor and I don't think that's a silly thing," he said.

"We're one of the biggest brands this country's got and I think that it would be a smart play by any government to sponsor us and use us to sell their message."

The coach then replied to the challenge around his large squad.

"We and everybody in New Zealand that follows rugby has expectations that we continue to grow our talent, we continue to win Test matches and we've got some big Test matches to play.

"So we've decided to take every opportunity we can to get a group of players to London early so our preparation for that England Test is spot on.

"Secondly, it gives us the opportunity to keep developing players... these guys don't just develop sitting at home.

"Sometimes you have to spend money to make money."

The All Blacks coach first raised the issue earlier this year when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson were in the team's changing sheds after they secured the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park.

"We and everybody in New Zealand

A reporter asked the All Blacks coach why he's using 51 players for a tour when he's also asking for financial support. Source: 1 NEWS


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Strategic Steve Hansen reveals thinking behind huge 51-man All Blacks squad

All Blacks coach Steven Hansen has explained the reasoning behind his decision to select a whopping 51 players for this year's end of year tour with both key 2018 Tests and next year's World Cup on his mind.

Hansen announced his large squad in Christchurch today before specifying it had been broken into two units - a 32-man team and a 19-strong wider squad.

The 32-man roster will be used throughout the tour while the extra 19 will only feature during the Japan leg of the tour.

"The idea of only naming 32, which is one less than last year, is to try and simulate as much as possible conditions that we will face from a selection point-of-view in the Rugby World Cup," he said.

"We have two games in Japan which allows us to simulate the round robin part of that competition."

Hansen said there was also a focus on the tour itself.

"With the big games of England and Ireland coming, we wanted to send a group of players early to London so they could get acclimatised and rest so we can get straight into our work on Monday morning.

"So we're sending 22 guys over early, hence the reason why we needed to bring some extras for the Japan week."

Hansen promised some "exciting" rugby from the penciled-in Japan team with a mix of experienced players and fresh faces included.

"[The extra 19] will go home after the Japan Tour so we won't have 51 on the tour. Only 32."

The All Blacks coach confirmed 32 players will be used in Europe with the extra 19 only needed for the short Japan leg. Source: 1 NEWS


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All Blacks take serious injury blow in loose forwards, Jack Goodhue to miss part of Northern Tour because of glandular fever

The All Blacks have named their 51-strong squad for this year's end of year tour but it hasn't come without issues with multiple injuries forcing coach Steve Hansen to make changes.

Hansen revealed the squad today in Christchurch before confirming who had been overlooked due to injuries and other issues.

"Jordan Taufua whose arm would not have available until halfway through the tour," Hansen said.

"So we thought that was too big a risk to select him."

Taufua broke his arm playing for the Crusaders in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Sharks in July.

But as Hansen revealed, he isn't the only loose forward missing the tour.

"Sam Cane, obviously with his neck injury.

"Shannon Frizell has picked up a shoulder injury while playing for the All Blacks so he needs some rest time - he doesn't need an operation but wasn't considered."

Hansen also added their was some tweaking in the midfield too.

"Jack Goodhue is recovering from glandular fever so he won't be coming with us to the Japanese leg of the tour - Ngani Laumape will take his place there."

The All Blacks begin their tour in Yokohama when they play the Wallabies on Saturday October 27.

The 51-man squad is missing some familiar names. Source: 1 NEWS


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