Final: Golden All Black Generation Win on Home Soil
New Zealand v France, 8-7
(Eden Park, Auckland, 23 October 2011)
As in New Zealand in 1987, the Final this time at Eden Park was between New Zealand and France.
As in 2007, the team which lost the Final had already lost to the winners in the pool round.
In fact France had lost twice to New Zealand and Tonga but then Canada beat Tonga and France slid into the quarterfinals and came close to winning the Final.
It was a tough match, belying the pre-match drama.
The French underwent a player revolt against coach Mark Lièvremont before the match.
The players claimed that he had let them down in front of the media and he labelled them 'spoilt brats'. They managed their own preparations for the Final and Lièvremont did not attend the post-match media call.
France won the toss for the right to choose colours but chose white so that the All Blacks at home could play in their traditional black.
At the haka, the French marched towards their eye-popping, tongue -lolling opponents in a vee formation before spreading out into a line.
Then the match became a slogging affair. Tony Woodcock scored a try from a worked move at an attacking line-out when the All Blacks engineered a split through which the durable prop raced. Piri Weepu missed the conversion and two penalty attempts in the half but he saved a try when François Trinh-Duc looked certain to score.
Half-time came with New Zealand leading 5-0.
In that half Aaron Cruden had damaged a knee and was replaced by Stephen Donald in a year when Daniel Carter was injured.
Donald became famous by goaling a penalty early in the second half in a match of several missed penalty attempts by both sides. There remains doubt about the penalty, whether it went over or not, but it will stand in the record books for eternity.
Immediately France hit back.
Trinh-Duc was again close to scoring before Dusautoir scored and Trinh-Duc converted.
That left 33 minutes to play. As what as the case for most of the match, France continued to defend bravely but in the end the All Blacks were the winners.
New Zealand joined Australia and South Africa as twice winners of the Rugby World Cup.
Australia did it away on both occasion, South Africa at home and away and New Zealand at home on both occasions, and there was just one point in it as each side scored a try.
The whole of New Zealand was overjoyed – but the French went grumpily away, complaining that the referee had been far to lenient on Richie McCaw at the breakdowns.
For New Zealand:
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock
Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams
France: Maxime Médard, Vincent Clerc, Aurélien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili, Imanol Harinordoquy, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Julien Bonnaire, Lionel Nallet, Pascal Papé, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Jean-Marc Doussain, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damien Traille
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)