This far from their best, far from convincing, but all that’s forgotten. Richie McCaw gets to lift that elusive trophy for the All Blacks, in New Zealand, as their side beat a super tough France team 8-7 to claim their second World Cup, ending the 24 year wait since the first Rugby Union World Cup.
France surprised everyone – by making the finals, and by the style they chose to open with, finally moving the ball from hand to hand and just playing a kicking territory game sure made you think this was going to be one heck of a final. It wasn’t. Gritty, full of heart, blood, crunching tackles and huge effort, yes. Dream, beautiful, flowing Rugby? Nope.
Tony Woodcock scored the opening try after 14 minutes while Piri Weepu had his aims set the wrong way tonight, missing two penalties and a conversion. Stephen Donald added a penalty early in the second half, while France answered right back with a try from Thierry Dusautoir, who eventually won man of the match, which didn’t seem to really bring any kind of consolation to him.
Without Dan Carter, and more than a decade since the disappointments of the Jonah Lomu era, team effort with fantastic defense and less reliance on huge names, with Richie McCaw’s spirit and blood all over this team and winning field, the All Blacks finally got a title they deserved to win after a long long wait.
The fear of the home pressure being too much to handle for Graham Henry’s side blew up in critics’ face. The All Blacks had no problem handling France in the group stages, Argentina in the quarter finals and Australia in the Semi Final. This wasn’t the side that tore through everyone in 2010, and not winning the Tri Nations caused some worries, but it seemed that the players knew better.
Home matches at Eden Park blew them up with confidence, and although their attacking game wasn’t as perfect and filled with tries as some dared to expect, this side brought something different each time, more than enough to keep the title in Auckland and have millions jump up in a joy when McCaw lifted the trophy. New Zealand always seem to be no.1 in the World Rankings, this time, finally, they came through and fulfilled their promise.