STEPPING OUT onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Saturday night, the All Blacks looked as confident, powerful and menacing as they have in some time. Travelling to Melbourne for the annual Bledisloe Cup against Australia’s Wallabies, the All Blacks had every intention of retaining the coveted trophy, dominating Australia 38-7 in what is a 21-year consecutive win.
But here’s the kicker: according to All Black’s coach Ian Foster, his New Zealand outfit haven’t even “peaked yet”.
“We’re trying to build something that gets us where we want to be,” Foster told Nine after Saturday’s game. “We know we had some growing up to do as a team coming into this year, and so far we’ve taken three pretty strong steps forward which we’re pretty proud of… but I’m not sure it’s quite enough just yet.”
While the landslide win for the All Blacks is a case of being business as usual, many sporting pundits have been quick to conclude that the All Blacks are are in all-time shape just 40 days out from the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Considering where the All Blacks have been over the last 12 months — to hell and back, some may propose — the 2023 season to date presents as a definite telltale for the World Cup ahead.
Speaking to Esquire last week at an exclusive All Blacks training session on behalf of TUDOR, the official timekeeper of the Rugby World Cup (and the official sponsor of the All Blacks), star New Zealand utility back Beauden Barrett admitted the All Blacks had to do a bit of “soul searching” over the last 18-months.
“There’s a huge opportunity for us from where we’ve been in recent years, having been through some definite tough times, some highs and lows — we’ve had to do a bit of soul searching and ultimately figure out what type of game strategy we want to play,” Barrett says.
“But amongst all of that, we’ve really formed a strong brotherhood and as a result, 2023 has been good for us. We all know we want to be peaking in October and hopefully in a World Cup final.”
When is the Rugby World Cup?
Very soon! The 2023 Rugby World Cup will officially kick-off on September 8, with the final concluding on October 28, 2023.
Who are the All Blacks facing?
The All Blacks arguably have the most difficult Pool, facing off against host nation France on the opening night of the World Cup. Speaking on the first game clash, Barrette is confident his team will be an equal match to the current second best ranked country in the world.
“To be honest, I’m inclined to think that the pressure will be on France,” says Barrett. “They’re hosting and really, the pressure is on them.”
The All Blacks will then go on to face Nambia (#21), Italy (#14), and Uruguay (#17) for their chance to make the quarter finals.
Can the All Blacks actually win the World Cup?
Absolutely! The current world number 3 team knows what it takes to win a World Cup — they’ve done so in 1987, 2011 and 2015 — and are in great form for the 2023 tournament.
Former All Blacks Test fly-half Stephen Donald, who played a significant role in the All Blacks’ 2011 World Cup win, believes New Zealand are in a “great position” to go the whole way to hoist the Webb Ellis Trophy in October.
“The All Blacks are in as good a place as any. They’re pretty settled,” said Donald on AM.
“I know everyone was doom and gloom after last year, but when you look at everyone else that there’s there, the Irish are flavour of the month but they’ve never made it past the quarter-finals. They’re going to go there with all the hype and hoopla, (but) how are they going to respond to that?”
The All Blacks might have had a dismal 2022 season, marred by injuries, dips in performance and the loss of player confidence, but off the back of dominant wins thus far in 2023, the three-time world champions are undoubtedly a considerable threat going into the 2023 World Cup.
What’s TUDOR’s involvement with the All Blacks?
Since 2017, TUDOR has partnered with the All Blacks, a seamless partnership that truly celebrates the Swiss watchmaker’s signature #BornToDare messaging — one that Beauden Barrett and the All Blacks unequivocally resonate with.
“It’s about expression and how we play — trusting our instincts and committing to whatever our gut is telling us, and not being afraid of consequences of our actions but rather embracing them,” says Barrett.
“That’s when we’re playing our best game of Rugby; at high speed and with high skill.”
TUDOR will also be the official timekeeper of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.