World Cup final: Titanic battle awaits as South Africa and New Zealand seek to make history

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RUGBY World Cup final: Titanic battle awaits as South Africa and New Zealand seek to make history

Joel Omotto 11:00 - 28.10.2023

Either the Springboks or the All Blacks will become the first team to have won the Rugby World Cup four times, adding spice to Saturday night’s final at Stade de France

History will be made on Saturday when one of New Zealand or South Africa becomes the first four-time winners of the Rugby World Cup.

There was a slight disappointment when hosts France were ousted from their own tournament in the last eight – leaving the atmosphere comparatively flat for the semi-finals – but this game has given a fantastic World Cup a fitting finale.

It has not been the smoothest build-up, especially for the Springboks, who saw one of their players, Bongi Mbonambi, accused of using a racist slur towards England’s Tom Curry, but we can now properly focus on the rugby.

They are two wonderful teams, who have shown skill, physicality, bravery, and resilience to reach the showpiece event. It could well be the greatest final this tournament has ever seen, given the standards they have set both past and present.

The All Blacks and the Springboks are the most successful countries in rugby’s history, lifting the Webb Ellis Cup on three occasions each, but one of those nations will be out on its own on Saturday night.

A repeat of the famous 1995 final, which was won by South Africa thanks to Joel Stransky’s drop-goal after extra-time, it would not surprise us if this match is similarly tight.

These games create legends of the sport and the two sides in Paris will be looking to follow in the footsteps of some of those greats. Many from this weekend’s All Blacks and Springboks teams have already etched their names into the history books, but more records could be broken in Paris.

Look at Sam Whitelock, who may become the first player to win it three times, or South Africa in general, who could be the second team to defend their title after – you guessed it – New Zealand.

The Boks have also never conceded a try in a World Cup final, while their three triumphs at the global tournament (1995, 2007, and 2019) have come 12 years apart. A win at the Stade de France will break that streak and add to the legacy of their inspirational skipper Siya Kolisi and the brains trust, Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.

As for their opponents, it would be a story of redemption for the much-derided Sam Cane and his head coach, Ian Foster, who will be replaced by Scott Roberson after the World Cup, irrespective of the end result.

It is all set for an enthralling spectacle, one which will be enjoyed immensely by the neutrals but, for the fans and those not on the pitch, it will be at least 80 minutes of nerve-wracking action. A titanic tussle awaits.

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