Friday, October 19, 2007
It doesn't get any bigger than this. The World Cup Final is upon us. On Saturday night in Paris we will see the champions of the world crowned.
I was going to say that we will see a new World Champion, but will we? If England win it tomorrow night it will be the first time that a team has ever won the World Cup on consecutive occasions, a great achievement.
The Springboks however, who are most pundits favourites after their 36-0 drubbing of England earlier in the tournament, will fancy their chances and will be hoping to repeat the successs of the 1995 tournament victory.
The group stage meeting between the two sides probably won't have a whole lot of bearing on Saturday nights final in Paris. The hero of 2003 Jonny Wilkinson wasn't playing. He hasn't had the best tournament by his high standards, but he somehow always seems to make a vital penalty or dropkick when it matters.
The English side also have a lot more belief in themselves now and will fancy their chances against a powerful Bok team that are unbeaten so far. Former Wallaby coach and current technical advisor to the Sprinboks, Eddie Jones, feels that we still haven't seen the best of the men in green and gold. They're an extremely well balanced side with strong forwards and speedy, talented backs.
If England were to win the World Cup again it would be an incredible achievement, considering everything that has happened for them since 2003, and in this tournament particularly, when they were written off so early on as nohopers. To come back from the pasting they took in the media and back home would be admirable to say the least.
South Africa on the other hand have been building up to this since coach Jake White took over in 2004. White was adament who his captain should be - John Smit - and he brought players like Percy Montgomery and Os Du Randt back into the Springbok fold.
John Smit himself was at Ellis Park for the famous final back in 1995 when South Africa last won the cup. He was there as a 17 year old schoolboy though, who had hitch-hiked from Pretoria with a mate to get to the game. He watched big Os Du Randt give it his all, and celebrated with the rest of the country at the final whistle, on a day that united a nation.
So, will Smit be celebrating again, this time in Paris with his hero Os, or will the likes of former World Cup winners Robinson and Wilkinson be the heros on the night?
We have a great final ahead of us. Lets hope it's a spectacle and the team that chances their arm wins it. Then again, it's a final - you don't get any prizes for the most attractive rugby. All you need to do is win, and if history tells us anything, we may well see a winning drop goal decide it.
One shot for glory.
Who will do it this time?