France in blue, New Zealand grey for World Cup clash
6 October 2007, CARDIFF (AFP) - France will wear their first-choice blue shirts but with white shorts and socks while New Zealand will be in their change strip of grey shirts with "dark" shorts and socks in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final here at the Millennium Stadium, organisers announced, after a stalemate over team colours was eventually broken on the morning of the match.
6 October 2007
CARDIFF (AFP) - France will wear their first-choice blue shirts but with white shorts and socks while New Zealand will be in their change strip of grey shirts with "dark" shorts and socks in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final here at the Millennium Stadium, organisers announced, after a stalemate over team colours was eventually broken on the morning of the match.
The agreement was in line with the compromise proposal put forward on Friday by France team manager Jo Maso, who on Tuesday won the toss for choice of colours and opted for blue.
A recent change to the precise shade used means this now clashes with New Zealand's traditional black - something that has rarely been an issue in previous matches between the two countries.
But a particular problem in this situation, given that France had won the toss, was that the All Blacks came into this tournament having abandoned their longstanding white reserve shirt for a grey, silvery colour with some black and black shorts and socks which now clashes with France's home kit.
A statement issued by Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) on Saturday said: "This decision was taken to ensure that players and match officials would be more able to identify players from each team and also in the interest of television viewers around the world.
"RWCL would like to thank the Unions for their assistance in reaching this agreement, in particular the FFR (French Rugby Federation) who had won the toss."
The statement added that "neither any Union nor the organising committee was at fault for the fact that the initial kit preference of the Unions could not be accommodated".
Maso, whose side have lost their last seven Tests against the All Blacks, said Friday: "Just as New Zealand are attached to their colours, so are we. Our supporters don't say 'Come on the Whites', they say 'Come on the Blues'."
Although France are the World Cup hosts they find themselves playing a quarter-final in Cardiff rather than Paris after failing to win a Pool topped instead by Argentina who defeated Les Bleus in the opening match of the tournament.
That there are World Cup matches at all in Wales this year is the result of a reciprocal agreement following France's staging of a Pool and a quarter-final during the 1999 World Cup when Wales were the main hosts.
"It's the draw, we have to accept it," said former France international Maso. "We look forward to playing the best team in the world, New Zealand, but we can beat them."
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw played down Friday the issue of team colours by saying: "The jersey doesn't decide whether you play well, it's the players who wear the jersey that decide."
This is not the first time this tournament that favourites New Zealand have been involved in a colour clash.
During their 40-0 Pool C win over Scotland in Edinburgh on September 23 the All Blacks wore their away strip.
But Scotland's redesigned home kit, which saw grey piping added to their traditional navy blue shirts and featured navy, as opposed to white, shorts with navy and grey socks, made it hard to work out which side was which.
"Obviously, it was difficult for the players, difficult for the spectators," New Zealand team manager Darren Shand said the day after the Scotland game.
"We've just got to be confident the tournament organisers realise there's a problem and are determined to ensure that doesn't happen (again) going forward."
Subject: French news