2 NOV 2015
Last weekend, New Zealand held off a fierce Australian comeback to win a thrilling Rugby World Cup final and become the first team to retain their title. Great tries from Milner-Skudder and Nonu gave the All Blacks a 21-3 second half lead before Pocock and Kuridrani struck back for Australia.
With 15 minutes to go there were just four points in it, but a long-distance drop-goal and penalty from Carter gave the All Blacks control again. And when replacement Barrett sprinted on to Smith’s kick at the death, history was made, with New Zealand becoming the first three-time champions of the world.
That Australia came up short will leave them nursing spiritual hangovers long after the physical ones have passed, but without their inspiring second-half renaissance this would not have been the unforgettable final it turned out to be.
If anyone is going to overhaul New Zealand in the next four years, it seems likely it will be one of the other three semi-finalists from the southern hemisphere. While the European teams measure their success against each other in the Six Nations, if Australia, Argentina or South Africa want to win a title, they have to beat the world champions.
New Zealand fly-half Carter was named World Rugby Player of the Year for a third time on Sunday. He announced his international retirement after scoring a record 1,598 points in 112 appearances. The All Blacks won the Team of the Year and Australia‘s Michael Cheika was named Coach of the Year.
Saturday was a night for those in black to shine, even if Steve Hansen, the coach, is so self-effacing that he was the last man onto the victory podium and hidden away behind all his players when the old gold pot was hoisted. The New Zealand victory really is an impressive feat; 39 tries in just over six weeks including seven victories; 1,339 caps in the starting XV; and of course two World Cups in two attempts, after 24 long years of waiting, missing and falling short.
If you've been inspired by this season of incredible sport, check out our rugby pages, with details of upcoming sports tours and 6 Nations away games. To discuss these our any other sports travel wishes - including cricket tours, Formula 1 and golf events - give our Sports Travel Specialists a call on 01244 355 600.
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2015