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Rugby | Rugby World Cup

Big-Match Special: World Cup Final

The SuperSport.com team was in Auckland today to bring you all the action as New Zealand and France meet in Sunday's World Cup final.

Our two senior correspondents, Brenden Nel and Gavin Rich, brought us a good-as-there experience from Eden Park in Auckland.

Our coverage included text updates of the build-up, video, live streaming, a Q&A session and live text commentary.

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Below are all the links:

Live Commentary:
Join us for our live text commentary when the match kicks off at 10am (SA, CAT, GMT+2).
Live Streaming:
DSTV Subcribers can follow the match via live streaming right here.

Brenden's Q&A:
Today's match-report writer, Brenden Nel, will be available to answer your questions from 12:00 to 1:00pm.
Facebook & Twitter:
Share your views with us and the world on our Facebook and Twitter fan pages.

We'll feature selected comments in our live broadcast as well as our live text commentary.

08:45 - Good morning and welcome to our coverage of today's World Cup final.

08:46 - Auckland is buzzing and the city has gone black. The fan walk to the stadium is packed with thousands who are moving along steadily into the stadium. There is a real expectation of a hometown win here today with most analysts predicting a one-sided final. (Brenden Nel)

08:50 - The city has already planned their victory parade for tomorrow, and just about everyone believes the French won't win. Loads of fans outside with the trademark t-shirt - "Keep calm, Piri's on" - taking a leaf out of the posters from World War 2. (BN)

08:53 - There is a load roar when some of the All Blacks appear on field to start their warm-up. Richie McCaw is talking to assistant coach Wayne Smith, and they both look determined. (BN)

08:55 - Just have received the final team sheets and both sides are unchanged. (Brenden Nel)

09:00 - Large contingent of Green jacketed Bok supporters around, sitting next to the French supporters. Wonder who they'll support tonight? (BN)

09:02 - Interestingly France have the best record of any side at Eden Park, won seven, lost eight. The All Blacks last lost here in 1994 - to France - 27 matches ago. (BN)

09:10 - Here's are some stats and figures for today's game:

This is the 51st Test match between New Zealand and France. New Zealand have won 37, France 12 and there has been one draw.

  • New Zealand have won 20 of the 24 Tests played in New Zealand.
  • France are one of only two teams (South Africa is the other) to have beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in the past eight years.
  • It is their sixth Rugby World Cup meeting, which sets a record for RWC match-ups.
  • This will be the third time that two teams have met twice at one RWC. At RWC 2007, South Africa beat England 36-0 in the pool phase and again 15-6 in the final while Argentina beat France 17-12 in the pool phase and 34-10 in the bronze final.
  • New Zealand and France have alternated wins in their RWC encounters, with the All Blacks winning the 1987 final, Les Bleus winning their 1999 semi-final, New Zealand winning the 2003 bronze final, France winning the 2007 quarter-final and the All Blacks winning the 2011 pool-phase match.
  • France came from behind at half-time in both the matches they won. They have never led New Zealand at half-time in a RWC match.
  • New Zealand have won the past three Tests between the two. Their best winning streak against France is eight, recorded in the 1960s. France’s best winning streak against New Zealand is three matches, in 1994 and 1995, which included consecutive victories in New Zealand and the All Blacks’ last loss at Eden Park.
  • Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Richie McCaw will each play their 11th Test against France. Sean Fitzpatrick and John Kirwan (12) are the only All Blacks with more Tests against Les Bleus. Ali Williams will also play his 11th Test against France if he comes on as a replacement.
  • Mealamu and McCaw can both win their 10th Test against France, which would equal Gary Whetton’s New Zealand record. England’s Jason Leonard is the only player from any nation to have won more Tests (12) against France.
  • Thirteen of France’s starting line-up played in the RWC 2011 pool match against New Zealand, with 11 of the 13 starting that match. The two players who did not play on 24 September are tighthead prop Nicolas Mas and left wing Alexis Palisson, who both missed the match because of injury. Four of France’s replacements for this match played in the 2011 pool match, with Dimitri Szarzewski and Damien Traille starting and Fabien Barcella and François Trinh-Duc coming on as replacements.
  • Five of the starting XV also played in France’s RWC 2007 quarter-final defeat of the All Blacks at Cardiff. Vincent Clerc, Julien Bonnaire and Thierry Dusautoir all started in the 20-18 victory while Imanol Harinordoquy and Jean-Baptiste Poux came on as replacements. Replacements Dimitri Szarzewski and Damien Traille also played in 2007, Traille starting the match at full back and Szarzewski coming off the bench.
  • There are three France players in the match-day 22 for this Sunday’s final who played in the RWC 2003 third-place play-off against the All Blacks. Jean-Baptiste Poux, Dimitri Yachvili and Damien Traille all started that match, which France lost 40-13.
  • Thirteen of New Zealand’s starting XV and 19 of their match-day 22 played in the All Blacks’ last match against Les Bleus, their 37-17 RWC 2011 pool-phase victory. The only changes are Kieran Read at number 8 instead of Adam Thomson, Aaron Cruden at fly half in place of the injured Dan Carter and Stephen Donald on the bench rather than Colin Slade.
  • Four of the All Blacks’ 22 played in the RWC 2007 quarter-final loss to the French. Tony Woodcock, Richie McCaw and replacement Ali Williams all started that match while replacement hooker Andrew Hore came off the bench.
  • There are also four New Zealand survivors from the RWC 2003 encounter between the two teams, the third-place play-off that New Zealand won 40-13. Mealamu, Williams and McCaw started that match while Brad Thorn came on as a replacement. France
  • Third in the IRB World Rankings having gained two places after their semi-final win against Wales. France were the last northern hemisphere team to be ranked in the top three, in June 2010.
  • Playing in a record-equalling third RWC final. England and Australia have played in three finals and New Zealand are also appearing in their third at RWC 2011.
  • The first team to reach the RWC final after two defeats in the pool phase.
  • Reached the RWC semi-finals for the fifth consecutive time, equalling the record set by New Zealand from 1987 to 2003, which was ended by France in 2007.
  • Have lost two RWC finals, the same as England, who are the only other team to have lost more than one.
  • Have waited 12 years since their last RWC final appearance. They also waited 12 years between their first two (1987, 1999).
  • The only team among the 20 at RWC 2011 who can improve on their previous best RWC finish. Several teams have equalled their best finish and New Zealand and Wales can join them.
  • Scored 121 penalty goals at all RWCs, equal highest with England. New Zealand
  • Ranked No.1 in the world, a position they have held for more time than all other nations combined.
  • Have scored 2004 RWC points, 602 more than second-placed Australia.
  • Have scored 271 RWC tries, 92 more than second-placed Australia.
  • Have won 36 RWC matches, four more than second-placed Australia.
  • Have scored more tries than their opposition in 36 of their 42 RWC matches, eight more than next-best Australia. The All Blacks have won all 36 of those matches and have lost the remaining six matches where they scored as many or fewer tries than their opposition.
  • Playing in a record-equalling third RWC final. England and Australia have played three finals and France are also appearing in their third at RWC 2011.
  • The only team to finish first in their pool at every RWC.
  • One of four teams (along with England, France and Australia) to have progressed to the quarter-finals at every RWC.
  • The All Blacks and France share the honour of having progressed to the most semi-finals (5).
  • The All Blacks and France are the only teams to have lost multiple RWC semi-finals.
  • Have lost two knockout matches after leading at half-time, both against France. Australia are the only other team to have done it more than once (both losses were against England).
  • New Zealand have scored at least one try in their past 95 Tests and in 101 of the 102 Tests coached by Graham Henry.
  • Graham Henry coaches a team in a Rugby World Cup match for the 16th time, extending his record. Henry coached Wales in their four matches at RWC 1999 and the All Blacks in their five matches at RWC 2007 and their seven at RWC 2011.
  • Graham Henry is the only person to coach a top-tier nation in 100 Tests in the professional era. His 85 per cent winning record coaching New Zealand is the best for any coach of a major nation in the professional era. His predecessor John Mitchell’s record of 82.1 per cent is the only other above 80 per cent. Henry also coached Wales in 34 Tests and the British and Irish Lions in three.
  • New Zealand have lost to only South Africa, Australia and France during Henry’s reign and have a winning record against all three.
  • New Zealand have won their past 16 Test matches at home, a winning streak that goes back more than two years, to when South Africa beat them 32-29 in Hamilton on 12 September 2009. Their only better streak is the world record 30 consecutive home Test victories from 2003 to 2008.
  • Under Graham Henry, New Zealand have lost only three home Test matches, against South Africa (twice) and France.

    09:21 - Both teams are warming up on the field and the NZ army band has just started their routine. The stadium is about half full and already its looking like a blackwash. (BN)

    09:25 - Here is Brenden and Gavin discussing today's game:

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    09:26 - Here is part two of Brenden and Gavin's preview:

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    09:30 - The stage is being set for the closing ceremony. Pretty soon we will be entertained as the players head for the changeroom and then its on to the big game. (BN)

    09:33 - Here's a look at Eden Park today:

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    09:38 - The closing ceremony is about to begin. The game is getting closer. (BN)

    09:41 - Here's a couple of fans on their way into the stadium:

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    09:43 - There is absolutely no chance for showers tonight, or so we have been told, but it is chilly with a light breeze blowing through the stadium. (BN)

    09:50 - Not much of a closing ceremony there, but the teams are being introduced and the crowd is noticeably massively in favour of the home side. The choir is on and the teams will be on shortly. (BN)

    09:56 - The anthems have just finished and there's only a haka between us and the kickoff. Join us on the live commentary facility for the duration of the match. We'll be back here as soon as the match is done.

    11:45 - What a tense final and what a massive result for New Zealand. The country can now start the mother of all parties.

    12:05 - France captain Thierry Dusautoir: "It's a real pity. We are really disappointed. I am really proud of my boys and what they did in the World Cup.

    We lost two games in the pool and we came to the final. It's good for New Zealand and good for the country, but I am really disappointed."

    "We read a lot of stuff this week but I thought we showed we know how to play rugby."

    12:12 - Kieran Read: "I am shaking.

    "It's a hell of an occasion. We knew it wasn't going to be easy and it wasn't."

    "The support has been outstanding. Thank you so much."

    Dan Carter: "We were all so relieved. You could see all the boys jumping up and down.

    "It's well overdue and well deserved. It's great to do it here at Eden Park."

    12:30 - All Black captain Richie McCaw: "It's hard to describe, I am absolutely shagged. What the boys put out there, we had to dig deeper than ever before and it's hard to get it to sink in, but I am so proud of every single of one them.

    "We couldn't have been under more pressure at times but we stuck to our guns and got there in the end."

    "The key was expecting things like that to happen, if you don't prepare and hope for the best, then when something happens you can't deal with it.

    "When we had problems the next guy stood up and the next guy stood up, and I take my hat off to the guy (Stephen Donald, who replaced Aaron Cruden in the Final) but it's not about one guy, everybody played as well as they can."

    "At some point one group of players was going to do it and this group of 30 had the chance to share it. When things happened we just kept getting up and kept getting up and trusting in your mate beside you.

    "It was 30 guys and the management and everyone played their part, and it's hard to describe, but around New Zealand people in the streets have supported us so much and it's great that we could repay them."

    12:35 - That concludes our coverage of this World Cup final. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

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