Red cards don't always ruin a contest and what else we learned from All Blacks' second Test against France

1.Red cards do not always ruin a contest

Hansen says he would like to see a way of keeping players 'in the park' after situations like the one Benjamin Fall suffered. Source: 1 NEWS

The Wellington Test was not ruined because of the harsh red card handed to Benjamin Fall. It was ruined by poor, uneven play by both teams. France was long on courage and commitment, but short on attacking verve and panache. Its limitations were clear. The All Blacks were just loose and profligate with the ball. It smacked of the Wales-France 2011 RWC semifinal. Even when Sam Warburton was sent off, Wales should have won but just played badly. France was slightly less mediocre on the night. Do not blame the red card, even if the law – as in the case of Fall – is an ass.

2.Richie Mo'unga is the No 2 No 10 in NZ

Most of us already knew this, to be fair. It was not that Damian McKenzie played poorly after replacing the concussed Beauden Barrett at the 12-minute mark. Far from it. But he failed to exert control with his kicking and tactical game. This was not entirely his fault, as the pack was not able to wrest control. But the time is ripe for the classy Richie Mo'unga to show us his wares in the starting XV.

3.The French are better than we thought at the breakdown

Much of the All Blacks' game is based around swift ball from the ruck. Get in there and disrupt the flow and you go a long way to hindering their patterns. Jacques Brunel rang the right changes, Kevin Gourdon shifting to No 8, and Kelian Galletier and Mathieu Babillot on the flanks. As a trio, they worked collaboratively at the breakdown, exhausting Sam Cane and forcing several turnovers. The French needed to be more Jean-Pierre Rives than Olivier Magne. It worked.

4.The All Blacks are not quite as good as they think they are

The All Blacks were far from their best in last night's 26-13 win. Source: 1 NEWS

We know the All Blacks are past-masters at winning even when they have not played well, but it is fair to say they have hit their straps in only about 40-45 minutes out of 160 in the series thus far. They are a long way from being able to call upon their best XV, but it goes to show that cohesion and match fitness do not just come to the fore as of right. Improvement was expected from the pack after Eden Park, but it never came, despite yeoman work from Sam Whitelock. Time to ring the changes for Dunedin.

5.The French cannot buy a trick on this tour

They say you make your own luck. Maybe. Maybe not. But sometimes you are dealt dud hands. After lock Paul Gabrillagues was unfairly binned at Eden Park, the French might have thought lightning would never strike twice. Cue the Benjamin Fall incident. Then you shudder at the thought of what might have been if second five Geoffrey Dumayrou had not been held up over the line early doors or if young replacement hooker Pierre Bourgarit had not rabbited over the line not long after TJ Perenara’s sinbinning. Zut alors!

Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup tickets to go on sale, All Blacks fans urged to get in quick

All Blacks fans are urged to get in quick if they are to secure seats at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with officials warning tickets will sell out fast one year out from the tournament.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealand All Blacks v Australia Wallabies, Twickenham Stadium, London, England. Saturday 31 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. Source: Photosport

Half a million tickets have already been pre-sold with tickets set to be open for sale to the public at 1pm today (NZ time).

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin believes there will be an "unprecedented demand" for tickets which involves the home team, Japan's Brave Blossoms and the top tier nations.

"All the matches involving Japan, definitely all the matches involving New Zealand... England, Australia are experiencing high demand and we would expect they will be sold out very quickly," said Gilpin.

The All Blacks begin their title defence against the Springboks in Yokohama, the evening after the tournament opener between Japan and Russia in Tokyo on September 20, 2019.

Adult ticket prices are expected to range from ¥10,000 - ¥40,000 (NZD $136-$544) while tickets to the final on November 2 to cost anywhere between ¥25,000 - ¥100,000 (NZD $340-$1361).

"When you bring Rugby World Cup to a place like Japan, you hope that people will get behind it and the demand will be there – and it really has been," said Gilpin.

"It's a fantastic story for the event and a good message of confidence for the organising committee."


Most read: Meet the Kiwi farmer who went from being a Black Fern to becoming the first female to ref a men's first-class game

This story was first published on Tuesday September 18

Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney may have made history when she became the first woman to referee a men’s first-class rugby match last weekend, but she’s shaking off the milestone.

"It's not about who you are or where you're from or what your gender is, it's just hard work and a bit of training."

The 35-year-old has been around rugby most of her life, having won two World Cups before trading in her No.10 jersey for the whistle.

That experience came in handy on Saturday in Te Aroha when she officiated her first Mitre 10 Heartland Championship game between King Country and Thames Valley.

"To see women ref out there, there's no problems," Thames Valley captain Alex Bradley said after the game.

"They take control - probably better than some of the men."

But it’s not just her experience from the game that helps her.

Mahoney says farm life in Eketahuna plays an important role too.

"I'm extremely challenged to hit a standard that most of the boys can hit quite easily, and that's not going to change - genetics aren’t going to change that," she said.

"It’s just a lot of hard work that's going to have to go into it."

History shows the rural lifestyle has gone hand in hand with rugby's greatest figures – take Sir Colin Meads as a prime example.

Women have officiated men in Tests between developing nations but nothing close to the intensity of first-class New Zealand domestic rugby.

While Mahoney doesn’t think she’ll ever officiate the All Blacks, she’s happy knowing the path is a little bit closer.



John Mitchell leaves Bulls for defence coach role with England under Eddie Jones - report

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has reportedly finalised a deal to join Eddie Jones as England's new defence coach.

ON THE MOVE: John Mitchell

South African newspaper Die Burger reports Mitchell has been released from his Super Rugby head coaching role at the Bulls after the Rugby Football Union agreed to pay a transfer fee.

The fee reportedly sat between NZ$300,000 and $450,000.

Mitchell will now assist Jones as the team looks to turn around their recent form in time for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Former Springboks captain Victor Matfield, who played 140 matches for the Bulls, has been rumoured as a possible replacement for Mitchell.

Under Mitchell, the Bulls finished 12th in this year's competition after losing 10 of their 16 games.


First woman to ref a men's first-class rugby match reflects on journey - 'I wasn't sure it was achievable'

Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney achieved a milestone for woman in rugby over the weekend when she became the first female referee to officiate a men's first-class game, but she admits she once thought it may have never been possible.

Mahoney, who played 16 matches for the Black Ferns before transitioning to refereeing, was put in charge of Saturday's Mitre 10 Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country.

"Thames Valley was a fantastic host union for me," she said.

"Just a nice, small, heartland union to get me my first game which was pretty special... the boys were good and it was a really good game."

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The 35-year-old said she decided to take up the whistle after realising the women's game was growing.

"I'm really proud that I've achieved what I set out to achieve.

"Three years ago, I set the goal of wanting to referee men's first-class rugby and at the time, I wasn't sure if it was achievable.

"But I've had faith put in me and really enjoyed it."

Rebecca Mahoney controlled a Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country. Source: 1 NEWS