Speaking of Gary Lineker, rugby is a game where they always win 15 against 15… The historic English scorer’s phrase in reference to football has ended in Germany (in the low hours today), but oval sporting supremacy is in dispute and will be settled in Paris this weekend.
It’s a hegemony, and the same people always fight: South Africa and New Zealand. The two superpowers who brought the dominance of the game, born in England in the mid-19th century to the southern hemisphere, will play the much-anticipated final of the tenth edition of the World Cup, a descendant of then-soccer, on Saturday night. Rugby Cup.
The tournament was born in 1987, when the sport began to take the first steps of its professionalization, and since then there have been only four champions. Three-time champions New Zealand and South Africa have reached the final, ahead of England, who have crowned them once, and Australia, who have crowned them twice. Saturday’s game will mark the first four-time championship in history.
Both the contestants have followed a similar path until the decisive match. Both lost in the group stage to the European candidates who started the competition with the title of favourites. The New Zealand All Blacks lost their opening matches to hosts France, the South African Springboks and then world number one Ireland. This prevented them from meeting in the quarter-finals, where they swapped roles to defeat European teams. The All Blacks defeated Ireland in one of the best games in history and the Springboks left the French on a tear, their second World Cup defeat on home soil.
Already in the semi-finals, the two powers from the south accounted for the candidates from the other side of the table. New Zealand mercilessly beat Argentina’s Las Pumas (44-6) and defending champions South Africa, who won Japan 2019, fought until the last minute to dislodge England (16-15) in a repeat of the final four years ago.
The two superpowers meet again this Saturday in a match that will provide a clash between New Zealand’s technical perfection and South Africa’s physical dominance. The match takes place at 9pm at the Stade de France (Movistar+).
24 hours before England and Argentina clash for the bronze medal on the same stage.
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