The curtain will finally fall. For two weeks, the World Cup has been living its life in a parallel universe. Maybe I forgot, but it ends Saturday night. We forgive you. It is possible that each of the little dramas that have fueled its history since the elimination of the Blues, leaves you indifferent or takes you back to that damned Sunday evening, to your lost hopes, to the voluntary “backwardness” of Ben Etzeth, to the transformation that Cheslin Colby, to Ben O’Keefe, has confronted. This New Zealand referee whose initials are ‘BOK’ is all you want…
The curtain will finally fall. For two weeks, the World Cup has been living its life in a parallel universe. Maybe I forgot, but it ends Saturday night. We forgive you. It is possible that every one of the little dramas that have fueled its history since the Blues were eliminated, leaves you indifferent or takes you back to that damned Sunday evening, to your lost hopes, to the voluntary “backwardness” of Ben Etzeth, to the transformation that Cheslin Colby has faced, into Ben O’Keefe. , this New Zealand referee whose initials are “BOK”, to everything you want to erase from your memory or hate.
The excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the event has disappeared. But the conclusion remains to be known. We invite you to put your head above the wall of disappointment that has arisen between you and this World Cup to enjoy its results. Of course, we would have preferred Antoine Dupont and company to be the representatives, but this Saturday, the reigning world champions, the Springboks, will face the All Blacks, also three-time champions.
“The legendary match.”
This poster has fueled the imagination of every rugby fan for almost a century. It is the legendary match par excellence. But it also takes us back to those moments when the sport was little more than a sport, to the 1995 final, to the white crowd at Ellis Park in Johannesburg chanting “Nelson, Nelson,” seeing Nelson Mandela stride onto the grass with a green Springbok. Jersey. Twenty-eight years have passed. The reality in South Africa is still harsh. Economic divisions have replaced racial barriers. On the other hand, on the scale of a team, or group of men, Springbox Kolisi and Etzebeth embody Mandela’s dream of a “rainbow nation.”
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi recalled that on Thursday. “The 1995 final was unique. I must have been four years old. I didn’t see it at the time but obviously I’ve seen the footage since then. The symbol is huge. It opened so many doors for me, and so many others.”
“The 1995 final opened many doors for me and many others.”
If we wonder about the continuity of South Africa and New Zealand at the forefront of rugby in the world, we must take into account the place that this sport occupies in the hearts of these two countries. “We are motivated by the history and heritage of the shirt. People who have taken the same path as us are very important to us,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster stressed on Friday.
How much will this heritage and awareness of representing more than simple sporting superiority help the All Blacks and Springboks progress in their adventure in France? What is certain is that both teams are reaching the end of their journey. On each side, six totem figures will bow. The coaches will also leave. No finalist has ever played so many caps: 981 caps for New Zealand starting 15 times, and 987 caps for South Africa (65 caps for each player). They both suffered defeats during the qualifying stage against the Blues and against the Irish but managed to come back.
What’s the way to tip the scales when it comes to predictions? The 2023 All Blacks do not have the invincibility aura of 2015, and Sam Keane is no Richie McCaw. But over the course of the competition, Ian Foster’s players discovered what makes New Zealand rugby so powerful: impeccable quality in the winning stages, impenetrable defence, and most of all a cutting-edge technical palette, and the ability to hit unrivaled goals.
The battle that will take place in the last quarter hour
What can we say about this South African team, except that over the course of the World Cup it has become stronger than ever before. Clever, of course, but above all cruel, driven by this desire to undermine and destroy the foundations of the opposing game.
So who gets the last word? The All Blacks had the upper hand during the Rugby Championship, but were thrashed by the Springboks during their final pre-season match, in August at Twickenham (35-7), particularly by selecting seven forwards from the substitutes. They took that option again, keeping in mind the fight that would be decided in the final quarter of an hour. At this stage of the competition, everything matters. Kolisi and his teammates played four difficult matches, in which Kane and his team played only two, against the Blues in the opening match, and against the Irish in the quarter-finals. In Dublin, in Limerick, as almost everywhere in France, we will look at this final explanation with our heads full of regret. But can we still question the legitimacy of the winner?
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