The All Blacks played like the ‘great prophets of doom’ as Bill McLaren once described them as they closed out the fantastic French revolutionaries – a team that was in disarray yet played wonderful rugby (only in the final) while the favourites played a rugged dogged defensive game to nervously win a thrilling Rugby World Cup final.
All Black Snow Angels: Cory Jane, left, and Israel Dagg enjoy the tickertape after receiving their winners’ medals. Photo RWC
Congrats to New Zealand on a hard fought battle with the magnificent French revolutionaries – what a game. As they say in the song, it’s been a long time coming.
The then reigning world champions South Africa, when beaten by Australia in the quarter finals, exited with great dignity. As the final whistle blew I watched their world’s best second row, Victor Matfield, smile warmly whilst congratulating the victorious Australians. So too did the Springboks talisman captain, John Smit. He got up from the bench and promptly walked over to the Australian bench to congratulate them with a smile, whilst privately sad, knowing that his international rugby career was over.
But the moment of the tournament came from a real winner in rugby, in sport and in life, the Romanian captain, Cristian Petre, who after suffering a 67-3 loss to England, was asked by a reporter about the game and replied "I play rugby for happiness".
Note: Springbok captain John Smit and vice-captain Victor Matfield retired a few days after the World Rugby Cup (Smit from international rugby and Matfield from all rugby with the quote: “It has been an unbelievable experience being part of building our great nation and bringing people closer to each other.”
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