And so the story was written, that in a land far far away, the people would rejoice upon this merry day. These hearty warriors would conquer all ye who dared to challenge them. They would face adversity along the way, losing men to the rigours of battle; the pressures of a hopeful nation weighing on their minds.
But in the end, when the climactic clash was won, a nation would exult after twenty four years of hurt, and those brave men would be declared heroes, every last one. A golden trophy would be presented to the fiercest of them all and the men from down under would be declared the greatest of their generation.
…would win through skill and passion.
They would dance and celebrate in their own particular fashion, the All Blacks they called them, would win through skill and passion. And so the story was written, and thus it did conclude, the French gave their best efforts but were no match for those righteous dudes.
The fairy tale is complete; The All Blacks have won the Rugby World Cup. The home nation can once again feel elation and offer approbation, in equal measure, after waiting for what had seemed far too long. It was not the prettiest of finals, the New Zealanders never quite finding the rhythm we have become so accustomed to of late. This is, however, largely testament to those unpredictable French, who did not go down easily, taking up the challenge from the off, as they formed an advancing arrow head upon the ritual Haka.
…very little let up from either side,
The game was a ferocious affair, the atmosphere much the same, with very little let up from either side, until a well-worked line-out five metres from the line, allowed the prop, Tony Woodcock, to dart his way, untouched, through the French defence to touchdown over the try line. A conversion could not be added, and the home nation went in at half-time five-nil up.
The hard-fought conflict continued into the second half, with every chance of either side making a game-defining breakthrough. After a rare New Zealand lapse in concentration saw the French advance swiftly from the half-way line to within five metres of the try line in a matter of seconds, culminating in a quick try from the man-of-the-match winning French captain, Thierry Dusautoir, the cynics might have predicted yet another New Zealand collapse against those wily French.
…remained ahead on the scoreboard,
On the contrary, the All Blacks were not to be denied their victory, as just before this turn of events, a penalty from the fourth-string fly half, Stephen Donald, ensured the All Blacks remained ahead on the scoreboard, this eventually proving to be the telling difference between the two battle-wearied sides.
A solitary point is all that separated them. Congratulations to the ‘Blacks, commiserations to Les Bleus. It’s been an exciting and erratic few weeks; let’s hope for much the same in four years time.
Images courtesy of The All Blacks and Tony Woodcock