newzealand rugby team.jpgNew Zealand have been declared world champions for the first time in 24 years after edging France 8-7 in a World Cup final held today.

An already febrile atmosphere within the ground before the start had been stoked still further when France’s players formed an arrow formation to face down the ‘haka’, and then advanced slowly over halfway as the capacity crowd roared.

The All Blacks looked sharper and more powerful in the early exchanges as the French ran up blind alleys and were swallowed up by the swarming New Zealand defence.

 

Scrumhalf, Piri Weepu, had already missed a reasonably simple penalty when Woodcock opened the scoring in the 15th minute through a well-executed move straight- off the training ground.

Flanker Jerome Kaino leaped high at the back of an attacking line-out and knocked the ball straight down to Woodcock on his inside, and the prop only had to trundle a few meters through a huge hole in the defence to touch down with Weepu missing the conversion as the home side seemed well in control.

France however produced their best performance of the tournament and appeared to be close to pulling off one of the great upsets after captain Thierry Dusatoir’s try with half an hour remaining set up a nerve-shredding finale.

 

But Francois Trinh-Duc missed a long-range penalty before desperate defence saw the favourites hang on for a famous 8-7 win.

The final whistle triggered scenes of wild jubilation at Eden Park as a nation celebrated a repeat of the outcome from the very first World Cup final in 1987.