2007 re­viewed

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CONTENTS -

For 19 of the teams, the 2007 World Cup was, as the of­fi­cials said, hosted by France. But the All Blacks didn’t feel like it was. They had to play a pool game in Ed­in­burgh and a quar­ter­fi­nal in Cardiff. Even more bizarrely they had to play against France in Cardiff... go fig­ure? The French had traded a cou­ple of games to Wales and Scot­land for their re­spec­tive vote at the host­ing bal­lot and the All Blacks were the vic­tims of that. Not that lo­ca­tion was their big prob­lem in 2007: no, the dam­age to their dis­as­trous cam­paign was self-in­flicted. They mucked about all year with con­di­tion­ing plans and ro­ta­tion and reached the World Cup with too many play­ers un­der­cooked and no real idea of their best line up. South Africa on the other hand came to France with their eyes on the prize – were con­sis­tent with se­lec­tions, played solid rugby and fin­ished off a well hosted, well run World Cup as cham­pi­ons.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

This was a World Cup that lacked great rugby but not great drama and sur­prise. France were beaten by Ar­gentina on the open­ing night and Ire­land, fan­cied to go far, col­lapsed in the pool stages. Eng­land were ham­mered by South Africa 36-0 in a pool game and in to­tal dis­ar­ray barely a week into the tour­na­ment while the All Blacks played pass and gig­gle rugby against Italy, Scot­land, Ro­ma­nia and Por­tu­gal.

The quar­ter­fi­nals kept up the in­cred­i­ble sur­prise: Eng­land, so out of sorts, beat Aus­tralia in the first match and then a few hours later France beat the All Blacks. Fiji, who had made it there by virtue of a bril­liant vic­tory against Wales, were on track to beat the Boks un­til the South Africans pulled fin­ger late in the game and the Pu­mas, unloved and un­wanted by ei­ther the Six Na­tions or Tri Na­tions, de­feated Scot­land.

The mir­a­cle of the tour­na­ment was Eng­land who found their way to the fi­nal and nearly won it.

But in the end South Africa were just too strong – too sure about what they were do­ing and so de­ter­mined to not take any risks.

GAME OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT

FIJI’S vic­tory against WALES was one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary en­coun­ters seen at a World Cup. Fiji were 24-0 up in less than 20 min­utes and then trail­ing with five min­utes to go. Talk about ding-dong. But just as Wales thought they had pulled off the great es­cape, they let Fiji rum­ble the ball up field and score with a rolling maul. Amaz­ing.

EN­DUR­ING MEM­O­RIES

The ALL BLACKS pro­duc­ing a dev­as­tat­ing open­ing 20 min­utes in their first game against Italy.

AR­GENTINA UP­SET­TING FRANCE on the open­ing night.

The ruckus that erupted in FRENCH MEDIA fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions about a poem coach Bernard La­porte had read to the team be­fore their first game.

The brav­ery and ca­ma­raderie of TONGA.

The way the FRENCH FACED THE HAKA in the quar­ter­fi­nal.

USA wing TAKUDZWA NG­WENYA skin­ning Ha­bana.

SUR­PRISE PACK­AGE: Fiji were su­perb in 2007.

France didn’t flinch dur­ing the haka.

ania were no match for the

All Blacks.

Rom

Chris Jackon the charge.

ITA LIAN JOB: The All Blacks stuffed Italy.

Luke McAl is­ter scores against France.

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