After 6 long weeks and 40 games, the Rugby World Cup has finally come to an end. Our happy band of caravanners all gathered in the hall at Bridge Lodge, Otaki, to watch our team, the mighty All Blacks face the French team in the final game. At the first bars of our National Anthem, everyone jumped to their feet and sang along with gusto.
The All Blacks started off with their customary haka, which they perform before each game. The haka is an expression of passion, vigour and identity and focuses the players on the game ahead. The French team appeared to be not at all intimidated by this display and moved up close to face the All Blacks while they performed. The All Blacks scored the first try, with the French captain following with one for his side in the second half. The game was bruising, with several members from each team being replaced because of injury. The French challenged the All Blacks at every opportunity,. Along with the 60,000 spectators watching the game live in Eden Park Stadium, our group were on the edge of our seats hoping that the All Blacks would prevent the French from scoring as the final minutes ticked slowly by. The All Black defence held on and the final score was an 8-7 victory. For Captain Ritchie McCaw, it was the ultimate prize at the end of a tournament in which he dragged his aching body through ruck after ruck, tackle after tackle, to finally claim the elusive Web Ellis Cup for his team, commenting just after the game that he was “absolutely shagged”.
Figures showed just nearly half the New Zealand population tuned in to watch the Rugby World Cup final, making it the most watched television event ever.
Captain Richie McCaw of the All Blacks lifts the Webb Ellis Cup – photo from Getty Images
The next day Auckland celebrated with a ticker-tape parade, with an estimated 240,000 fans who turned up to catch a glimpse of the All Blacks. Extra parades will follow in Christchurch and Wellington. giving the fans the opportunity to salute their champions. Further accolades followed at the glittering IRB Awards Dinner, which also celebrated 125 years of the International Rugby Board. It was a fitting finale to what IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset described as an “exceptional” Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks were named IRB Team of the Year and their coach Graham Henry IRB Coach of the Year. Good on you, All Blacks, you did the country proud!