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Rugby World Cup: France get off to a flying start against New Zealand in opening game

France's Damian Penaud during the Rugby World Cup match between France and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.
France's Damian Penaud during the Rugby World Cup match between France and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Copyright Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AFP
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France and New Zealand locked horns in Paris for the opening game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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France got off to a winning start at this year's Rugby World Cup, as they beat New Zealand 27-13 in the opening game in Paris.

Roared on by a capacity crowd at the Stade de France, Thomas Ramos kicked 17 points and Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet scored a try each to get Les Bleues off the mark in their search for a first Rugby World Cup title.

Ahead of kickoff, both teams were among the favourites to win the tournament. But it was the All Blacks who were first to break the deadlock when Mark Telea touched down after only 93 seconds.

But as the game progressed, France fought hard to prove that their tag as one of the favourites on home soil was well-deserved. They led at half-time 9-8. 

Thousands of supporters gathered in fan parks across France to watch the action. They were spurred on in the second half by solid kicking from Thomas Ramos and tries from Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet.

"It was important to begin well by winning even if it was not a knockout match," France head coach Fabien Galthie said.

"It was the culmination of our work before the tournament."

It was a successful start on the field to what will be a key test of France's organisational skills ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, especially after the chaos that blighted last year's football Champions League final at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris.

With the Olympics less than a year away, French authorities are under scrutiny to prove they have learned from the mistakes during the football showpiece between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

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