16 Oct 2015

All Blacks fans put French demons to rest

10:40 am on 16 October 2015

Here come the popular and unpredictable French again, and with them the ghosts of World Cups past.

But All Blacks fans say no ghosts will be bothering the team on Sunday morning.

New Zealand fans at the game between the All Blacks and the Pumas.

All Blacks fans will be sitting on the edges of their seats for Sunday's quarter-final match against France in Wales. Photo: AFP

Rugby commentators have spent the week chewing over the similarities between Sunday's quarter-final match in Cardiff and the 2007 match in the same stadium in which France tipped New Zealand out.

Dunedin's Kees Meeuws was an All Blacks prop in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups before playing rugby in France for four years.

He agreed it was quite a coincidence to be playing another quarter-final against them in Cardiff.

"France has been our bogey team. We have lost to them in two World Cups - 1999, the big one... and then again in 2007 in a similar situation to the one now," he said.

"It's a big thing and a lot of people are excited about the prospect of us playing."

Meeuws said, as with most rugby finals, the game could go either way but he expected the All Blacks to put to rest the demons of 2007.

The owner of Oakura's High Tide beach cafe, Francois Husillos, says it doesn't pay to underestimate the French.

Francois Husillos, who owns a beach café in the Taranaki settlement of Oakura, said it didn't pay to underestimate the French. Photo: Photo / Supplied

In the Taranaki town of Okato, meanwhile, New Zealand fans preferred to remember the 2013 World Cup, in which the All Blacks thumped France in the pool phase and beat them again in a nail-biting final by one point.

One local, Natasha Cleaver, said she did not believe there were any ghosts left.

"No, I don't think so. The All Blacks are looking pretty strong at the moment. Maybe a few off games, but they'll do good."

Another resident, Adrian Hogwood, agreed. "If [the French] want to get into [the All Blacks'] heads, they'll get in their heads, but the All Blacks are all professionals."

But two French café owners in Taranaki said they believed Les Bleus could upset the New Zealanders again.

"The thing with French people is, especially the French rugby team, you don't know what to expect from them. So I guess everything can happen, and yeah, I'm pretty confident," Oakura beach café owner Francois Husillos said.

His countryman Matthieu Cotteret, who co-owns New Plymouth café Emmalou, said he expected the French to lift their game in Sunday's match.

"[The All Blacks] are probably the best team in the world so you want to beat them, so for me the quarter-final which is coming is a type of final. If you win that game, you win the final," Mr Cotteret said.

Matthieu Cotteret, co-owner of the Emmalou cafe in New Plymouth, expects the French to lift for their match against the All Blacks on Sunday 18 October.

New Plymouth cafe co-owner Matthieu Cotteret said he was thinking about Sunday's quarter-final as though it was the ultimate match. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

There have been some ugly moments after past World Cup losses, with someone scrawling the word 'loser' on All Black Justin Marshall's airport luggage in 1999.

A psychologist, Sara Chatwin, said New Zealanders have played the blame game in the past and it was not very attractive.

But she said people have grown up through those experiences and, if the All Blacks lose on Sunday, people would not be so shaken.

Ms Chatwin said the feeling of déjà vu to the 2007 loss was strong but it was a different time with a different team, and too much had changed to be bound by the past.

Sports historian Ron Palenski said France could be mercurial, playing freakishly well despite poor form.

But he did not believe the All Blacks really have a "bogey-team" because the team has been beaten more often by Australia, and even England.

"Some people are obsessed with 2007 and it's about time they got over it."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.