2011 re­viewed

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CONTENTS -

They said New Zealand was too small to host a World Cup. They said it didn’t have the sta­dia or in­fra­struc­ture. They said New Zealand wouldn’t re­turn enough money to the IRB. All of it proved way off the mark and New Zealand hosted a su­perb World Cup.

Sta­di­ums were full. The na­tion got be­hind not just the All Blacks but ev­ery team and the Pa­cific Is­lands added an in­cred­i­ble flavour and pres­ence. This was a World Cup about com­mu­nity val­ues. It was a World Cup that left ev­ery­one think­ing rugby had more good than bad and that it had re­con­nected with its spir­i­tual home.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

There were a cou­ple of twists and turns that caught a few peo­ple by sur­prise. Ire­land beat Aus­tralia in the pool rounds and Tonga beat France. But the quar­ter­fi­nal line-up was largely pre­dictable and threw to­gether a few old ri­vals.

Wales beat Ire­land, France beat Eng­land and Aus­tralia beat South Africa. Eng­land were pretty glad to be go­ing home as their cam­paign had been dogged by off field in­ci­dents and they had to con­tend with a media cir­cus as a re­sult.

The All Blacks beat Ar­gentina and then pro­duced a bril­liant per­for­mance at Eden park to de­feat the Wal­la­bies. It was a night the na­tion came to­gether to will their team to the fi­nal. The pre­vi­ous evening France had scraped through af­ter Welsh cap­tain Sam War­bur­ton was red carded early for a dan­ger­ous tackle.

And so – as it was in 1987 – France played the All Blacks in the fi­nal. But of course the All Blacks had been re­duced to their fourth first-five and ended up with Stephen Don­ald on the field. Some­how he and the All Blacks kept it all to­gether and de­spite play­ing poorly, held on to win by a point.

GAME OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT

The fi­nal was tense and dra­matic but the game many found com­pelling was SAMOA VER­SUS SOUTH AFRICA at North Har­bour. It was in­tense, bru­tal and lit­tered with con­tro­versy.

South Africa won 13-5 but that was af­ter a hand­ful of poor ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sions, a wrong­ful red card to Paul Wil­liams and a healthy dose of spite and nas­ti­ness from both teams. Clas­sic World Cup stuff.

GREAT GAME: Samoa rat­tled the Spring­boks.

Fra nce were lucky against Wales. Stephen Don­ald takes off with the ball.

Aaron Cru­den looks for a gap.

Sam War­burte n is sent off.

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