New Zealand captured the Rugby World Cup by squeaking past France 8-7. The All Blacks were the best team in the tournament, but the French side was incredibly good on the evening. The All Blacks came into the match overwhelming favorites. A $1 bet on an AB victory would return $1.08. The French earned their underdog status. They were the first team ever to get to the Final of a World Cup after losing 2 matches in the pool stages. On Sept. 24th they lost to New Zealand 37-17 and Tonga upset them 19-14 on October 1st. In their Semi-final they luckily snuck past a 14 man Welsh side by a score of 9-8, but in true unpredictable French fashion they were arguably the best team in the Final. They had 55% of the possession and 55% of the territory. The French played running rugby and did not kick away possession. Ultimately it was possibly karma and home field advantage which carried the day for the All Blacks. At the end of the evening the All Blacks had been the best team in the tournament and the French didn’t really deserve to be in the Final in the first place.
South African referee Craig Joubert in a pre-match interview intimated that he was going to come down hard early. All Black Kieran Read was 5 meters off side at the kick-off with no consequence. Joubert’s laissez faire reffing continued. The French felt some attempt at ref control when they were called for off-side at a ruck in the 5th minute. The French player was not affecting the play and jumped back on side, but it was too late. Fortunately Weepu missed the kick. The All Blacks did something similar later in the match but were not called. As Richie McCaw said at a press conference earlier in the tournament, the All Blacks would try to get away with what they could. In the Final they seemed able to get away with more that the French. The final penalty count was 10 against France and 7 against New Zealand. New Zealand successfully kicked one of theirs and that was ultimately where the one point difference lay.
The excitement of the match was intense and the roar of the crowd chanting, “All Blacks” rattled your chest. With 10 minutes left France moved the ball well into All Black territory with 17 consecutive phases. They weren’t just running pick and go around the ruck either. They were passing the ball wide and bringing fullback Medard in the line. The New Zealand defense held and with 4 minutes to go they won possession and ran out the clock. The All Blacks were the 2011 World Cup Champions and continued their unbeaten streak in Eden Park that dates back to 1996. For being a nation that opened their hearts and homes to host the tournament and the team that consistently played the best rugby it was the right end for this World Cup.