Congratulations, All Blacks
Despite being riddled by injuries, New Zealand's All Blacks seized the Rugby World Cup , defeating France 8-7. It was down to the wire and beyond:
While the New Zealand supporters forming the majority of the 60,000 crowd at Eden Park confronted the unthinkable pain of a sixth barren World Cup campaign, Richie McCaw and his men dug deep into their physical and mental reserves.
They tackled like demons and wrested control from the physically combative French pack in the final minutes, recycling the ball among the forwards before winning the penalty which signalled the end of the match.
. . .Stephen Donald, New Zealand's fourth-choice flyhalf, who was called up to the squad during a fishing holiday, was his country's improbable hero with a nerveless penalty which ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
McCaw, battered, bruised and physically spent after playing through the pain of an injured right foot which has prevented him from training the past two weeks, paid tribute to the resolve and determination of his team.
"It wasn't pretty but it came down to how much desire, how much courage the boys had," McCaw said. "A lot of guys have put in a lot of effort for a long time."
Twenty-four years, to be exact.
There is something wonderfully picturesque about the fourth choice flyhalf, called in from fishing, kicking the winning goal.