Even though I had a running race that had flagged off at 5.30am this morning, there was absolutely no way that, as an All Blacks fan, I would be able to miss the Rugby World Cup Final – especially considering that it was a mammoth one between New Zealand and Australia.
So even though the match kick-off was at 12 midnight, I headed down to a pub near my place, which was showing the game and joined up with a couple of my friends there. The first thing that caught my attention was how crowded the pub was! In fact there were so many people that it was even spilling out onto the street too.
Yes. Rugby fever had well and truly reached its maximum.
Plenty of tension was in the air
While some present at the pub had been dressed in neutral attire, I could see several people wearing either All Blacks jerseys or black tops. However, I did spot a couple of patrons wearing Wallabies jerseys though.
When I reached the pub, there was about 20 minutes to kick-off. But the tension was clearly in the air. The appearance of the teams in the changing room on the television were met with either cheers or boos, depending on the team that the respective patrons were supporting. I thought that this created a very lively atmosphere indeed.
Soon enough though, the teams came out onto the pitch to sing their national anthems. I noticed very quickly that, at this point, the crowd reception was much louder – towards the playing of God Defend New Zealand rather than the Australian national anthem.
This was then quickly followed by the haka, which is a traditional Maori war dance that the All Blacks perform every time before their rugby matches.
Time for kick-off
And then shortly after that, it was time for kick-off. Everyone immediately cheered.
The match had proved to be very tight at the beginning, with several penalties being converted – but not a single try was scored. New Zealand did come close at times, but the Aussie defence had remained firm.
Until the 39th minute.
First try of the match
This was when the first try arrived, courtesy of New Zealand’s Nehe Milner-Skudder. The try, together with the subsequent successful conversion, was greeted with a loud eruption of cheers from the Kiwi crowd at the pub.
It was 16-3 to the All Blacks at half time.
The second try for the All Blacks
Immediately after the break, Ma’a Nonu scored New Zealand’s second try. Yes, the Force was well and truly with the men in black.
The Wallabies present immediately fell silent. It was now 21-3 in favour of the All Blacks.
At this moment, I had wondered how many more points the All Blacks would be capable of scoring. Would this rugby world cup final turn out to be like a one-sided demolition derby?
Or so I had thought.
Momentum temporarily shifts to the Aussies
In the 52nd minute of the match, New Zealand’s Ben Smith was yellow carded and thus sin-binned for 10 minutes, for a high tip tackle. And the next minute, the Wallabies scored a try. I began to feel a glimmer of nervousness. This isn’t the beginning of a comeback, right?
When the Aussies had narrowed the gap even more, to 21-17, no thanks to a Tevita Kuridrani try, and Bernard Foley scoring from the subsequent conversion, I was on tenterhooks. The All Blacks couldn’t possibly choke now, I had wondered.
The Wallabies fans were now slowly beginning to stir. And like me, the Kiwi fans were on tenterhooks.
Fortunately, a crucial Dan Carter drop-goal – with ten minutes left to go – had brought the momentum in this crucial rugby world cup final firmly back with the men in black.
The Kiwis in the crowd immediately become alive again.
The power of Dan Carter
New Zealand won a penalty in the 73rd minute and Dan Carter converted – to bring the score to 27-17 in favour of the All Blacks.
The Aussie fans go silent yet again. Yes, there is indeed a great disturbance in the Force… for the Wallabies.
The Cup was heading to New Zealand. But the All Blacks were not done with this match yet.
And finally, to put the icing on the cake, a try by Beauden Barrett – with one minute left to go, sealed the World Cup win for New Zealand.
The Kiwis are the champions
The final scoreline read 34-17 to the All Blacks.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now it was time to celebrate.
The men in black are the champions… of the world.
Yes. The All Blacks had done it again. New Zealand has created history – by not only winning the Rugby World Cup three times in a row… but have also become the first country to successfully defend the title.