McCaw given all-clear for Rugby World Cup final

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been given the all-clear to play in the World Cup final
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been given the all-clear to play in the World Cup final

ew Zealand captain Richie McCaw will be available for Saturday's World Cup final after World Rugby declined to cite the influential flanker for his collision with South Africa's Francois Louw during last Saturday's semi-final.

World Rugby confirmed on Sunday night that there were to be no citings from the Twickenham clash, from which New Zealand eventually emerged 20-18 winners.

Match citing commissioner Mike Rafter had until 6am on Monday morning to lodge any complaints with World Rugby's decision, but ultimately chose not to do so.

An initial replay of the incident that occurred 20 minutes into the game suggested that McCaw was in danger of being cited for a possible deliberate attempt to elbow Louw, but a different angle revealed he merely caught Louw's shoulder with his hip.

McCaw therefore is now free to lead the All Blacks against Australia in this weekend's World Cup final at Twickenham.

Speaking at a press conference in Weybridge on Sunday, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen mounted a vigorous defence of McCaw: "There is nothing in it, so there's nothing to talk about. Everyone has got a bit excited, and we move on.

"He (McCaw) is a man that draws a lot of attention because he's been a great player, maybe the greatest player in the history of the game.

"If he is not in your team, he's a pain in the rear end, so it goes that if you can't get him on the track let's get him off the track.

"It's a mark of respect, really. He takes it in his stride, and the team takes it in their stride."

Louw, who plies his trade with Bath in the Aviva Premiership, briefly went off nine minutes later in the first-half following the McCaw incident - which happened at a ruck - however it was for treatment to a cut caused during a lineout.

"He had two knocks to his head, and we put some sutures in the one from an elbow during the lineout, but that won't keep him out of the match on Friday," Springboks team doctor Craig Roberts said, ahead of the Springboks' World Cup bronze medal match against Argentina on Friday.

New Zealand could become the first team in rugby union history to make a successful world title defence should they win Saturday's final, following a bruising encounter with South Africa.

" When you have performances like we did in Cardiff (62-13 quarter-final win against France) it's very difficult mentally to get back into that same spot," Hansen added.

"It was a really tight, tough game (against South Africa) where we probably didn't play as well as we could have.

"I think some of our game needs to be looked at. We will go into the final really hungry for a performance.

"We won't be overrating ourselves, which will be good. I think we will lift, there will be enough excitement. The final will be energising in its own right.”