Showdown in Paris: “No better script”: Historic final of the Rugby World Cup

One last anthem, one last haka, and perhaps a record at the end: the final of the Rugby World Cup marks the end of a journey for Ian Foster that is hard to beat in terms of turbulence.

Showdown in Paris: “No better script”: Historic final of the Rugby World Cup

One last anthem, one last haka, and perhaps a record at the end: the final of the Rugby World Cup marks the end of a journey for Ian Foster that is hard to beat in terms of turbulence. "You couldn't have written a better script," said the coach of New Zealand's famous All Blacks.

Foster was on the verge of being fired several times a year ago, saved his job, but after the final it was still over. Shortly before the start of the World Cup he also suffered the worst defeat in the history of the All Blacks. And everywhere the final opponent South Africa played a decisive role.

"This performance takes the pressure off us. Nobody will bet on us now, which is nice," said Foster after the 7:35 defeat against South Africa. The historic blow came just two weeks before the start of the World Cup and at a time when people in New Zealand thought the worst was already behind them. Five out of six games were lost between November 2021 and August 2022. An outrageous series for the All Blacks, whose status at home goes far beyond that of a sports team.

All Blacks want to become record holders

When they were behind again shortly before the end of a friendly in South Africa, Foster's exit was basically sealed. But a stunning comeback with two tries in the final seven minutes ended New Zealand's nightmare run and the 58-year-old was allowed to remain in charge. However, for a time, because in March it became public that Scott Robertson had already been found as his successor for the period after the World Cup.

Foster can make himself immortal at his last dance on Saturday evening (9 p.m./ProSiebenMaxx) in Paris' Stade de France. He could lead New Zealand to their fourth World Cup triumph and thus make them the sole record world champions ahead of South Africa. A chance that most experts thought was minimal after the defeat at the start of the World Cup against hosts France.

But it's not just about making it into the history books for Foster. Winger Will Jordan has already scored eight tries at this World Cup, drawing level with record holders Jonah Lomu, Julian Savea (both New Zealand) and Bryan Habana (South Africa). Since Jordan is only 25 years old, even legend Lomu's World Cup record is shaky. The All Black, who died in 2015, scored 15 World Cup tries in his career.

Iconic duel 30 years ago

The duel between the All Blacks and the Springboks is already dripping with history. The two teams have been dueling each other for over 100 years and almost 30 years after an iconic game they will meet again in the World Cup final. The final of the 1995 home World Cup was hugely significant beyond sport; it united South Africa after the end of apartheid.

A year earlier, Nelson Mandela had been elected president, and in the final, wearing a green Springbok jersey and a green cap, he presented the World Cup trophy to the white captain Francois Pienaar. They defeated the big favorites New Zealand 15:12 and became world champions for the first time. Almost a decade and a half later, the film "Invictus" was made about the game in Hollywood. Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon starred and Clint Eastwood directed.

A legacy of development is Siya Kolisi. Five years ago he was named South Africa's first black captain, and a year later he and his team unexpectedly won their third World Cup title in Japan. On Saturday he led the South Africans onto the field again and, before kick-off, joined his teammates in the Haka, the Maori war dance that the All Black perform before every game.

Kolisi can make history: As only the second captain after New Zealand's Richie McCaw, the 32-year-old could win his second World Cup title. "We know that many fans can't afford the trip here. But every message, every video we receive makes us stronger," said Kolisi. "Hopefully we can win the title again."

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