Rugby World Cup Final Match Report - New Zealand 8-7 France

Rugby World Cup Final Match Report - New Zealand 8-7 France

New Zealand ended 24 years of hurt as they edged out France at Eden Park, to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

France started the game very confidently, as they certainly seemed to settle down faster than New Zealand. They showed a willingness to move the ball wide and really take the game to hosts. But as in the group stages for all Frances possession and territory they were unable to gather any points and they were made to pay.

After Piri Weepu won a penalty at the breakdown, the All Blacks sent the kick deep into the French 22. From the line-out Jerome Kaino took the ball and the tail and with the softest of touches flicked the ball down to Tony Woodcock, who had the biggest of holes to run through and touchdown. The most unlikely of scorers (66/1 with most bookmakers) had opened the scoring for the favourites. Weepu missed the conversion, but a 5-0 had been established.

France then lost their fly-half Morgan Parra who took a huge blow to the head from Richie McCaw's knee; he was unable to shake of the knock and was replaced by Francois Trinh-Duc.

Weepu had the chance to extend the lead after 25 minutes but sliced his kick well wide, New Zealand were starting to get into their stride and probing kicks from Israel Dagg and Weepu kept the pressure on the French line-out. Kieran Read was becoming more and more prominent, carrying the ball with great power and giving his side real go forward.

The curse of the New Zealand number ten jersey struck again after 30 minutes, when Aaron Cruden suffered what looked like a very nasty knee injury and he was replaced Bath bound Stephen Donald.

Towards the end of the half Trinh-Duc made a brilliant break from inside his own half, and only a wonderful effort from Weepu stopped the fly-half who showed great pace to break the All Black line.


At the start of the second half Dimitri Yachvili had a chance to get France on the board, but like Weepu he dragged his first kick wide of the posts. They were again made to pay when Stephen Donald stepped up to the tee and made it 8-0, with a simple penalty attempt.

But France didn't have to wait long to register their first points of the game, great work by Trinh-Duc saw him once again break the line. He got a brilliant offload to Aurélien Rougerie who was held up just a couple of metres from the line. The French then recycled the ball and their inspirational captain Thierry Dusautoir crashed through the line to score under the posts. Yachvili added the simple conversion 8-7.

France grew in confidence with each minute that passed, they looked the more confident side. Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy were superb for Les Bleus really putting their bodies on the line. Dusautoir was again showing the form of 2007 making 20 tackles in the opening 60 minutes. Harinordoquy was ruling the line-out with ease, calling the shots and giving France a real advantage in that area.

They had chances to take the lead but Trinh-Duc missed a long-range penalty attempt with 15 minutes to go. The second-half belonged to the visitors, they had all the possession and territory but at crucial times handling errors and penalties cost them the chance to get the victory.

To their credit New Zealand just saw out the final few minutes and ended all those years of waiting, it wasn't the prettiest of games but they ground out the win.

A mention has to go to Craig Joubert who had a shocking game with the whistle, so many times we saw All Black players off their feet or not releasing and they were allowed to get away with it. On three occasions blatant high tackles went unpunished, one of lead to Donald's penalty which ultimately decided the game. He didn't win the game for New Zealand, but he did make some crucial calls that shaped the game.

Man of the Match

Thierry Dusautoir