New Zealand will look to make history next weekend, when they return to Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup final. The will be looking to make two pieces of history, becoming both the first team to retain the Webb Ellis Cup and the first team to win it three times.
All Blacks Look to Make History After Win Over Springboks
To make history though, first New Zealand will have to overcome it. On the previous two occasions that the World Cup holder has reached the final, Australia in 2003 after winning in 1999 and England in 2007 after winning in 2003, the holders were defeated. However New Zealand will be looking to go one better when they face either Australia or Argentina in seven days time.
If they are to achieve that goal the All Blacks will need to keep better discipline than they did against the Springboks, giving away far too many penalties. This allowed Handre Pollard, and later Patrick Lambie, to keep the scoreboard ticking over and gave the Springboks a chance of the win right up until the final moments. New Zealand cannot rely on Bernard Foley having the off day he did against Scotland should Australia progress tomorrow, and should it be Argentina who win in the second semi final Nicolas Sanchez has been in fine form himself, sitting 5th in the table for most penalties scored at this World Cup.
What New Zealand must do to become the first team to retain the Rugby World Cup, is to find their way through at the key moment. Despite a monstrous defensive effort from South Africa, where more often than not the All Blacks attack was met with a green and gold wall. New Zealand found the way to strike at the right moment. After South Africa had taken an early lead through a Pollard penalty, New Zealand did not give the Springboks time to settle into the game and consolidate their lead. They went straight up the other end and scored a try through Jerome Kaino. Knowing a penalty was coming and a potential yellow card for Bryan Habana, New Zealand once again found the whole in the South African line at the opportune moment with Beauden Barrett going over in the corner.
Whichever team New Zealand face next week, they will pose a different type of threat to South Africa. The bruising style of defence the Springboks showed may not be quite what Australia bring, but their solidarity has been well displayed at this tournament, no more so than in their pool game against Wales. And New Zealand know all about Argentina having been run close by them in their opening pool match.
New Zealand are one of the most iconic teams in sport, let alone Rugby, and a team that contains so many players that have made history in many ways, among others captain Richie McCaw has the most test caps of any player in Rugby History and will equal Jason Leonard’s Rugby World Cup appearance record in next week’s final and fly-half Dan Carter is test rugby’s leading points scorer. With the opportunity beckoning, this All Black team may just make history twice more, before Messrs Mealamu, Woodock, Nonu, Conrad Smith, McCaw and Carter all say farewell to international rugby.