Well done All Blacks. They were the best team in the Rugby World Cup by a long, long way and deserved the Webb Ellis trophy. Some may argue about the quality of the refereeing in this tournament, but it has been pretty clear from the start that the Kiwis were the best team in the tournament and it stayed that way throughout.
France put on a massive performance this weekend to make the final so close – most of us had written them off completely (again) and were worried that the final would be a washout. But France stepped up big time and made the All Blacks sweat for their glory. Had France got that final kick over, they would have been 10-8 up with just a few minutes to play and all the pressure would have been on the All Blacks. For a side that was in complete disarray after the Tonga loss it was immense to play that well in the final.
You have to wonder though, if France had won, what would that say about coaching and strategy in general?
What could other coaches and teams looking to emulate the French do? Go on massive booze-ups during the tournament? Rebel against the coach mid-tournament? Spend more time fashioning your ‘staches and sideburns than working on your set pieces? Sack the coach before the tournament starts but keep him on anyway, knowing as a lame duck he has no authority to enforce discipline?
New Zealand almost boggled this one. One intercept or one penalty deep in their own half and the schadenfreude could have been cut with a knife . But it was not to be. Well done Kiwis, worthy winners and all that.
Maybe it was the fact that the final was between two teams that I don’t mind winning the cup, maybe it is getting older, but somehow when my team got knocked out I wasn’t all that gutted. Life carries on. Maybe all the rugby that is played these days devalues rugby overall or maybe it is just that you don’t stay fifteen forever.
If your team didn’t win the World Cup, the best thing about waking up the morning after the final is the thought that it is time to start a new era. It’s time to get rid of the dead wood. For the Springboks the theory that experience is everything can be put to rest and hopefully they can focus on putting the best team available on the park. For the Wallabies, they have an exciting squad but need to focus on building up a tight five that can hold their own against other top nations. Wales look like they have a team to build on for the future, while Ireland are staring down the gun barrel of some pretty important retirement.
On Monday, the rugby world will look a little different. Old story lines have come to ending, some neatly tied up, some left unanswered. But the chapter is closed on those tales. And that’s not a bad thing. The show must go on…