No team has ever won the William Web Ellis trophy back-to-back in successive World Cups, and for Richie McCaw of New Zealand, what better way to end the greatest rugby career than by being the captain of the first side to ever achieve this feat.
It seems almost ironic that the Wallabies, a side the All Blacks play more than any other, would stand in their way to making history, but this RWC final will be no continuation of the status quo, this will be a showdown with more riding on the result than ever before.
It is the last game in the All Blacks uniform for many legends of New Zealand Rugby.
These legends don’t only include the captain, Daniel Carter, Ma’a Nonu, and Conrad Smith are all going to experience their finale in this RWC final, and all of these men deserve nothing more than finish as two-time World Champions.
The Wallabies have everything to gain by winning this match and should feel no fear. It has been said, witnessed, and speculated on in every columnist’s preview of Wallabies matches against the All Blacks; this is a side that should win more games against their Tasman rivals than the records suggest. The pairing of David Pocock and Michael Hooper will be central to the Wallabies game plan, the tactic must be to slow down All Black ball and keep the running game contained.
Defensively, the Wallabies must continue the almost unbreakable trend of their goal line defense to give them any chance of keeping close to the All Blacks on the scoreboard. There will be penalties, but if the Wallabies can keep their opponents to a minimum three points on red zone attack, it will go a long way to the outcome of the match.
The age difference of players in each side will make no difference, the likes of McCaw and Carter are simply too world class, and any poor performance in the final will have nothing to do with their age.
Putting the World Cup aside, honours are even in 2015 between the two sides after two games where the results were vastly different. Both the All Blacks and the Wallabies have improved in leaps and bounds since the last time they met at Eden Park, a mere few months ago, but the biggest improvement of all has to be the defense of the Wallabies.
In terms of an occasion for rugby players, it doesn’t get much bigger than what lies ahead for these 30 young men. They must enjoy the occasion, put everything on the line, but realise that no matter the result, they can all be proud of a great tournament.
As the old saying goes, may the best team win.