This is the Rugby World Cup final we all wanted and we didn’t even know it.
This year’s Rugby World Cup final will take place on Saturday between the rampant All Blacks and their traditional rivals, the Springboks.
The All Blacks stormed into yet another final with a try-fest coming from their start winger, and tournament-leading try scorer, in a hat trick of tries against their hapless opposition.
The Springboks, by comparison, narrowly scraped through their rain-drenched semi-final with a lone try ultimately deciding the result. Unconvincing at times throughout the tournament, the Springboks face the mighty challenge of trying to stop their much-favored opponents this weekend.
An almost precise repetition of what led to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final in South Africa!
If you look at this special rivalry, you can’t look past some of the very significant stats surrounding these encounters.
Overall, the two teams have met 105 times with the All Blacks winning 62 times, the Springboks 39, and a total of 4 draws.
This gives the All Blacks a winning percentage of just a little more than 59%.
Interestingly, the Springboks have been the most effective at stopping the All Blacks over the years, out of all the respective test-playing nations that they have faced. The second-best team is Australia who kept them down to a 70% win record, making sure they put a tiny dent in their all-time 77% win record.
In their history, the All Blacks have had a 100% win record against 12 other test-playing nations, and the rest are placed somewhere in between.
There have been countless close calls between these two teams over the years and the average winning margin for the All Blacks has only been 4 points over the years. The average score is 21-17.
Although that goes back for some time, we can’t expect this to be vastly different in this final.
Rugby World Cup history
There have been a number of meetings between these two giants of the game at the Rugby World Cup but none as historic as that memorable 1995 final.
With an absolutely rampaging New Zealand team with the destructive Jonah Lomu running in tries for fun, the Springboks were given no chance.
The epic final went into extra time, which was eventually won on the back of a Joel Stransky drop goal.
The whole build-up to the final had some controversy that went with it as well and it is difficult to know exactly what the full story was.
This week already started with some controversy with the racial slur allegations made by England’s Tom Curry against Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
The build-up to the game thus far has had social media channels blowing up with support for both teams and it is bound to be another historic day in Rugby World Cup history.
The game will mark the first time a player has played in 3 x finals and we are talking about the legendary Sam Whitelock of course.
The all-time try-scoring record is beckoning for Will Jordan.
…and most importantly, the winner will have the honor of being the first team to win 4 Rugby World Cups!
The All Blacks
They weren’t really tested against Argentina and before that had some mixed results with their two major tests of the tournament.
One was a failure against France and one was a win against Ireland in the quarter-finals.
But the All Blacks have shown signs of their rugby brilliance as the tournament has progressed and they are exceptionally dangerous when they are offered a little bit of space to operate in.
It opens up a number of attacking options for them ranging from kick passes to well-drilled backline moves that are exceptionally difficult to defend against.
Their ability to keep their concentration and defend effectively for long periods of time has often formed the foundation on which they have built victories in difficult games.
Their only weakness at times has been when they have been put on the backfoot and their forwards have not been allowed to lay a solid attacking platform.
When their confidence is high they are nearly impossible to stop. If they are disrupted in these areas, they can be beaten.
South Africa has not had a flawless run through this World Cup by any means. They lost against Ireland in the group stages and beat France and England respectively by a single point and the narrowest of margins.
The French win they can take more pride in than the semi-final match against England in many ways. Depending on how you look at it, the England win might be seen as more impressive as it was achieved on the back of an under-par performance and inability to adapt quickly to what England threw at them.
They have been at their best when they have focused mainly on forward dominance to really suffocate other teams into submission.
England nullified that to some extent in the semi-finals.
But keep in mind that the Springbok team runs on a different kind of fuel and motivation than most other teams. In a country where a lot is going wrong, the Springboks are a beacon of hope and the team knows it.
They play for their people, with an unrivaled passion, and this has been a big reason why they have been able to pull these results out of the fire over the past 2 weekends.
Both head and heart this time tell me that it will be a back-to-back World Cup win for the Springboks. Most likely a reversed score of the All-Black average in these matches.
Springboks to win by 4 points with the score at 21-17.
It will be a brutal and beautiful contest that all rugby fans would be able to enjoy including the multitude of small battles that will decide the outcome of this war.