Rugby World Cup: All Blacks bid farewell to Lyon base as tournament knockout stages loom

As the curtain begins to come down on their time at Lyon, the All Blacks have allowed themselves a lighter moment on the eve of their final pool clash - an open session with local youth teams, 10,000 fans and a chance to give back to the city that's hosted them.  

"It gives you a whole other perspective of France," said veteran lock Brodie Retallick. "I've only been to Paris before, so it's been awesome to be out in these smaller cities."

That city has adopted the All Blacks as their second team, so time with fans both young and old is an ideal way to say thank you - and soon goodbye - to Lyon. 

Will Jordan interacts with local schoolchildren at Lyon.
Will Jordan interacts with local schoolchildren at Lyon. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's a cool way for us to just give back to a community here that’s been so welcoming to us," said halfback Finlay Christie.

The All Blacks will no doubt enjoy the relative calm of their final pool match while they can. Next stop - barring any major upsets - is Paris, and the pressure and expectation of knockout rugby. 

"In some ways, it is the calm before the storm, but the boys are excited for that challenge," said winger Will Jordan.

"Hopefully, we're on to Paris and then get into business," echoed Retallick.

While it was nice to give back to the city, business was exactly what the afternoon was about, with the All Blacks out to maintain the consistency they discovered against Italy, in what will no doubt be a one-sided affair against Uruguay  

"There’s still a lot there who have played a lot of footy together," said Jordan. "At this point in the season, you've trained together for a while now, so there's an expectation to go out there and nail it."

That's exactly what Jordan hopes to do. After a year disrupted by injury, illness and recently  rest, one of the All Blacks' most potent attacking threats wants to arrive at the business end of the tournament in peak form.

"It's been a little bit of a stop-start year for me, so it was nice to get a run last week and I think, as a whole team, just find a bit of rhythm," he said. "It was nice to get out there this week, build some new combinations, and try and take another step forward." 

The All Blacks have one more chance to do that before do-or-die rugby arrives.  

Join Newshub at 8am Friday for live updates of the All Blacks v Uruguay World Cup pool game