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In a thrilling opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2023 at the iconic Stade de France, the host nation, France, delivered a jaw-dropping performance, defeating the formidable New Zealand All Blacks. The hero of the night was none other than France's full-back, Thomas Ramos, who showcased his impeccable kicking skills, contributing 17 crucial points to secure the victory.

The clash began with a bang, as the All Blacks wasted no time, scoring a scintillating try just 92 seconds into the match. Mark Telea's adept finish off a precise cross-kick by Beauden Barrett gave New Zealand an early lead. However, France, spurred on by Ramos' precision, managed to stay in the game, with three well-executed penalties propelling Les Bleus to a narrow 9-8 lead at halftime.

The All Blacks weren't ready to concede, and Telea struck again with his second try, this time from Richie Mo'unga's perfectly floated pass. New Zealand retook the lead, but France had other plans. A pivotal moment came when Damian Penaud was inches away from scoring a try, denied only by Mo'unga's crucial tackle. This denial fueled France's determination, and they seized the momentum.

Penaud, connecting with Matthieu Jalibert's pass, crossed the try line, marking his 30th test try and shifting the game's dynamics. Then, with All Blacks wing Will Jordan in the sin bin, Thomas Ramos unleashed two more precise penalties, sealing the deal for France. The icing on the cake was a late try by Melvyn Jaminet, sending the Stade de France into a wild celebration.

After the game, Mastercard Player of the Match, Gregory Alldritt, expressed his pride in being French and acknowledged the formidable opposition. France's General Manager, Raphael Ibanez, emphasized the significance of team spirit in a World Cup game, praising the stunning display against the All Blacks.

New Zealand's coach, Ian Foster, acknowledged the challenge posed by France and the team's struggle to maintain momentum in the second half. Ardie Savea, who captained the All Blacks in Sam Cane's absence, recognized the need for regrouping and staying focused.

France's head coach, Fabian Galthie, was content with his team's resilience after conceding an early try, emphasizing that such challenges are part of the game. He concluded, "At the end of the day, it's a heavy score in our favor."

In the media conference, Ian Foster discussed the game's tight nature, the late absence of captain Sam Cane due to injury, and New Zealand's discipline issues. Despite the loss, Foster expressed confidence in his team's ability to adapt and find alternative paths to success in the tournament.

Richie Mo'unga highlighted the missed opportunities and the challenge posed by France's home advantage. Beauden Barrett emphasized the importance of staying positive and learning from the match.

Sam Whitelock pointed out the team's discipline as a key issue and the need to execute skills effectively. Aaron Smith praised the team's intent and the positives from the first half, despite the execution lapses.

In the mixed zone, players reflected on the game's positives and the lessons learned, emphasizing the need to regroup and focus on future matches.

France's stunning victory over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 2023 opener sets the stage for an exciting tournament, promising more thrilling encounters and unforgettable moments in the world of rugby.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
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Kevin Rademeyer

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