TOULOUSE, France (AP) — France completed a calendar year of test rugby with a perfect winning record for the first time after topping a competitive Japan 35-17 on Sunday.
France’s 10th win in 10 tests and third defeat of Japan this year never looked in doubt after the opening minutes.
The Tricolores dominated up front and steadily built a 21-3 lead by halftime. Then the rain stopped, the play opened up, and Japan was more comfortable with a dry ball. Both sides added two tries each and Japan joined France in a lap of honor that the packed crowd savored at Stadium de Toulouse.
The milestone victory also extended France’s year-long record winning streak to 13 tests — including everyone else ranked in the top 10 — and it heads toward the new Rugby World Cup year threatening the men’s world record of 18 straight wins.
The autumn series sweep of Australia, South Africa and Japan on consecutive weekends was scenarioed by France as World Cup knockout matches. It wasn’t entirely successful according to defense coach Shaun Edwar
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