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Reliving the great world cup moment

DAVID LIM
Last updated 16:03 23/10/2012
'ALL I FEEL IS RELIEF': All Blacks captain Richie McCaw sinks to one knee after the final whistle of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
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'ALL I FEEL IS RELIEF': All Blacks captain Richie McCaw sinks to one knee after the final whistle of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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Today, a year has passed since we witnessed one of New Zealand sport's greatest moments.

I'm talking about winning the Rugby World Cup for only the second time in our proud rugby history, and the second time at Eden Park, the spiritual home of New Zealand rugby.

Yes, that night of drama which saw plenty of nails on the floors of bars and homes nationwide between 10pm and 10:40pm that Sunday night will long live in the memory along with the image of our soon-to-be greatest All Black, Richie McCaw, lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy - the first All Black to do so since David Kirk did it in the winter sunshine of 1987.

The tension of that second half will be enough to give many nightmares for years to come. It seemed like the All Blacks would yet again choke against their great nemesis of every four years, Les Bleus, and this could have been the greatest choke and tragedy of them all.

Losing a Rugby World Cup Final on your own turf, in what would have been the greatest upset in the Final of a Rugby World Cup, against a team you've lost twice in the past, a team who you trounced comfortably earlier in the tournament, a team so widely written off by the media that an All Blacks victory was really not about if but by how many.

Yes, little would we have known that our fourth-choice first-five, the most maligned player in this country since Mark Carter to that point, a player who was preparing to leave our shores by doing a bit of fishing when he got the SOS call from the three wisemen, yes, Mr Stephen Donald aka "Beaver", would be the one to kick the most important penalty goal in recent All Black history, the one that would keep the All Blacks ahead "just" in that encounter.

For shortly after Beaver kicked that goal at Eden Park to give the All Blacks a 8-0 lead, inspirational captain, Thierry Dusautoir burst through the usually sturdy, iron-cast All Black defence to score under the sticks and close the gap to one solitary point - a gap that would remain till the final whistle had blown from Craig Joubert.

Indeed, the period from that try to the time Joubert blew that whistle was one of the most excruciating and painful in All Black history. Yet for the All Blacks, this was what they had been playing for and they stepped up, becoming this impenetrable black wall against this white wave.

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Make no mistake, the French on the night were unbelievable, unstoppable in the backs and the scrum, the better team on the night you could say. Well, not quite because they would have put away the All Blacks even with the ABs stout defence.

As it was defence that won the night and the All Blacks showed why they were still the best team in the world and on the night - they won despite being on the back foot and having to defend, despite being inferior in the scrums and in the kicking game.

And hence, why victory was sweet and for once why we were glad the All Blacks triumphed that glorious autumn night in Auckland.

A year has passed since.

Legends have gone - Sir Wilson Whineray, Sir Fred Allen, Jock Hobbs, amongst the All Black eternals who have died this year.

Europe's economy continues to plummet.

The New Zealand cricketers have won a test in Australia for the first time in 20 years.

And Great Britain has supplanted Australia as sporting power in the Commonwealth. Plenty has happened in the 12 months since that glorious night - yet the memories of that night still linger, and will linger on until our next triumph.

Hopefully, it won't be another 24 years before we wait for the next triumph.


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