Magne, who was a part of the famous 1999 side that upset New Zealand in the semi-final, believed that there was only three real contenders for this year’s World Cup.
He predicted a “tough” opening game for the All Blacks as a “humiliation” could be on the cards similar to what France dealt to England during the Six Nations.
“To me, the Big Three of this World Cup is France, SA and Ireland,” said former France flanker Olivier Magne in the columns of Midi Olympique.
“I am especially worried about this New Zealand team.
“When I see the level that the XV of France is able to display over 80 minutes today against Australia, with “finishers” who have maintained the same level of performance, and the determination of these players, this opening game could be tough for the All Blacks,” he wrote referring to Les Bleus’ 47-17 victory over the Wallabies.
Magne felt that the 35-7 win by South Africa exposed the All Blacks for who they really are, which called into question the “sham” results of the Rugby Championship.
“South Africa’s display against New Zealand is significant for the world of rugby,” he wrote.
“Now, isn’t this All Black team the weakest in history? I’m wondering. Really. I feel like New Zealand’s Rugby Championship wins were a bit of a sham.”
The rhetoric has been so intense that All Blacks defence coach Scott McLeod told media he is happy that his players “can’t read French” as they try to put all their focus into the first pool match.
He revealed that they have reviewed the 2021 match, the last time the two sides met which resulted in a 40-25 win to France in Paris.
“That hurt and we have held on to that a little bit. A couple of clips have been shown, which still hurts the boys.”
The team has been dissecting the loss to South Africa as the try to find solutions for the misfiring lineout and potentially having to play with men in bin.
“We spent a fair bit of time in Germany going through that and looking at the footage and what we could have done better. Responding to the ref was one takeaway that will be consistent through this World Cup,” he said.
“However, the big areas we looked at were around the lineout, and how we responded to some tactics that the South Africans brought, but also what we didn’t adjust [to] both in the lineout, [in defence] and around it as well, particularly with a man down, two men down.
“How we defend that, it is not something we want to train [for] or be aware of, but it’s something we have to, in today’s climate.”