Rugby World Cup 2011 Final: Prediction and Preview
So here it is rugby fans, the final!
After many many weeks of non stop ref cursing, beer drinking, early morning wake ups and mostly high quality rugby action adventures, we have one more game left. Either New Zealand or France will be the new Rugby World Cup champions and well done to them for making it this far.
Both Wales and South Africa will have reasons to be bleak as both could have made it further but that is all in the past and it now mostly irrelevant. How about we stop talking about it and move on, what do you say? No? Still can’t let go? Fine suit yourselves.
So the burning questions are whether France can lift their game enough to once again shock the world with an upset victory over the All Blacks in a RWC and can the All Blacks sufficiently deal with the pressure and not choke? On current form the All Blacks should win this game comfortably but let’s dive in, balls deep and take a closer look.
Rugby World Cup Final 2011: All Blacks vs France
France have a very good scrum and their front row is considered one of the best in the game so don’t expect the All Blacks to be as dominant at scrum time as they were against the Aussies. The French back row is very impressive and guys like No 8. Imanol Harinordoquy and flank, Julien Bonnaire will not only be handfuls on the charge but are solid defenders who pride themselves on dominating the physical clashes.
In the backs, Marc Lievremont has kept scrumhalf Morgan Parra at flyhalf and even though Parra struggled in the pool game against the ABs, he played very well against England and Wales. How he deals with the kind of pressure the All Blacks are so capable of (just ask Burglar Cooper) will be vital to the French cause. Look out for massive, 194cm, 104Kg centre, Aurélien Rougerie (how can you miss him, really?), he has been in superb form and is brought into the game as often as possible. For those ladies out there don’t say we don’t care about you. Here is a candid photo taken by a team-mate of Rougeries just chilling in the change room.
For the ABs, guys like Kevin Mealamu and the Franks brothers have had the measure of almost every pack they have faced and will know that another strong effort at scrum time will be the first step to Rugby World Cup glory. Big Bad Brad Thorn may be old and ugly but he is one of the key players in the side and his cleaning out, defensive and lineout skillz will mean he will be a constant er.. thorn (couldn’t help myself) in the side of the French. Jerome Kaino has been nominated for IRB player of the year and rightly so. He has been immense so far and will take some stopping.
In the backs, Israel Dagg has been one of the best backs on display so far. He is very hard to stop and his offloading in the tackle is awe-inspiring. Centres Ma’a dreadlocks Nonu and Conrad Smith resume their toit combination and even though Smith has not been that hot on attack recently, his defense is excellent. Aaron Cruden looked cool, calm and composed in the semi-final and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the added pressure of a final, especially if it is still close going into the last 10 minutes.
Special mention goes to the two captains. Both are powerful flankers, who lead from the front and set incredible examples both to their teams and to peeps in general as to how to play the game. Dusatoir is not so much a fetcher but is more in the mould of Juan blood diamond Smith and will tackle all day and look to disrupt the quick ball the ABs thrive on.
Richie McCaw’s face made out of toast… delicious.
Much has been said of Richie captain charming and he has done even more to enhance his incredible reputation with his performances and humility on and off the field at this Rugby World Cup. He has been carrying a foot injury and would not be starting if this was not a Rugby World Cup Final, he blunted David Pocock last week and without an out-and-out fetcher in the French side, should have a glorious time stealing and disrupting the French ball.
There is of course a chance the French will pull off the biggest upset in rugby history with a win on Sunday but looking at the way the All Blacks are playing at the moment and given the skill, pace and passion on display so far, they should be too much for Les Bleus. The French will try to slow the game down and defend for the 80min, hope the All Blacks make mistakes and punish them with kicks. The All Blacks should be able to break down their defenses with their natural game and if they play to their strengths should cruise to victory and become the worthy Rugby World Cup Champions of 2011.
Kick-Off: 23 October at 10:00am (SA time)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Craig Joubert
Rugby World Cup Final Prediction: All Blacks by 12-17