Sunday, October 23, 2011

RUGBY WORLD CUP: The Time Has Come! The Final.

France v New Zealand in Auckland (World Cup, Final)

Venue: Eden Park

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

The time has come. All what has happened in the 2011 Rugby World Cup culminates in 80 minutes of rugby in the final. What has been said is forgotten. It’s all about in the now.

It is somewhat fitting that these two teams meet in the final. The history of rugby matches between these two nations goes back to 1906. It was New Zealand that France played in its first official rugby test match. The ‘Originals’ won 38-8 in Paris and launched French test rugby.

France and New Zealand have locked horns in some famous World Cup games of the past. In 1987 New Zealand defeated France 29-9 in the first World Cup final. In 1999 France famously defeated New Zealand 43-31 in the semi final in the comeback of all time. In 2007 France again defeated New Zealand at the quarter final stage.

The French have wobbled there way to this final. They lost by 20 points to New Zealand at the pools stage. They had to come back strongly in the second half against Japan to win. Canada gave them a right old tussle. Tonga created history by defeating France in THE major upset of World Cup rugby history. They defeated England the very next match knocking their old foes out of the tournament.It was a superb display but the only one of note. Next they defeated 14 men of Wales by a single point. It was a game Wales could so easily have won. They have fought among themselves, with their coach and with the media.

New Zealand’s journey has been totally the opposite. They cruised through pool play, defeated Argentina at the quarter finals in a tough match and then played sublime rugby to defeat Australia in an astonishingly complete game of rugby. They did lose their key player Dan Carter, but recovered with two sound replacements.

So now put all that behind you because it means very little when it comes to a final.

Finals rugby brings out the the best/worst/indifference of a team. Whichever mode your team is in will dictate the outcome of the match. Very little of what has happened counts once that whistle goes to start the game.

France will have to draw out of their game bag another display as per against England. On top of that they will need to play even better. They will need to be monsters of forwards, tackle demons and attacking backs with all the flare and skill known to the French. Anything less and they will lose.

New Zealand will need to be as motivated as they were against Australia. They will need to draw on that game plan and do better. They will need to be monsters of forwards, tackle the life out of the French and attack with precision and grunt and score tries. Anything less and they will lose.

Last Five Encounters
24.09.2011 New Zealand 37-17 in Auckland (World Cup, Pool A)
28.11.2009 New Zealand 39-12 in Marseilles
20.06.2009 New Zealand 14-10 in Wellington
13.06.2009 France 27-22 in Dunedin
06.10.2007 France 20-18 in Cardiff (World Cup, Quarter Final)

France last won in Auckland against New Zealand in 1994, winning 23-20. That has been the only game in Auckland up to this year’s test match.

France This World Cup (Pool A)
10.09.2011 v Japan W 47-21 in Albany
18.09.2011 v Canada W 46-19 in Napier
24.09.2011 v New Zealand L 17-37 in Auckland
01.10.2011 v Tonga L 14-19 in Wellington
08.10.2011 v England W 19-12 in Auckland (QF)
15.10.2011 v Wales W 9-8 in Auckland (SF)

New Zealand This World Cup (Pool A)
09.09.2011 v Tonga W 41-10 in Auckland
16.09.2011 v Japan W 83-7 in Hamilton
24.09.2011 v France W 37-17 in Auckland
02.10.2011 v Canada W 79-15 in Wellington
09.10.2011 v Argentina W 33-10 in Auckland (QF)
16.10.2011 v Australia W 20-6 in Auckland (SF)

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 1st, France 4th

IRB Ranking Points
New Zealand 91.34, France 84.79

Prediction: Another supreme performance by the All Blacks. New Zealand by 20 points



15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Morgan Parra, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, Capt. 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20 Jean-Marc Doussain, 21 François Trinh-Duc, 22 Damien Traille.
Head Coach: Marc Lievremont


New Zealand
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, Capt. 6 Jerome Kaino,
5 Bradley Thorn, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
16 Andrew Hore, 17 Benjamin Franks, 18 Alistair Williams, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.
Head Coach: Graham Henry

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