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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Zealand in the 2011 Rugby World Cup

For more than a month (starting September 9), New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup for the first time in the professional era and for the second time in history since 1987. New Zealand will also try to win it for the first time since the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. The New Zealand All Blacks have the biggest expectation to deliver in this tournament just like England in football. I fear that if the All Blacks failed to lift the trophy, New Zealand will become like that of England where fans expect their national football team to fail all the time and a victory is not good enough.

Anyway, the last Rugby World Cup was disappointing; thanks to a rotation policy and a stupid referee name Wayne Barnes. The team was eliminated in the quarterfinals and was their worst finished the quadrennial competition.

This year, the All Blacks are once again one of the favourites to win the Web Ellis Cup and even though they failed to win this year’s Tri-Nations. The fans should take comfort to the fact that history says that no reigning Tri-Nations champions has ever won the Rugby World Cup. 


2011 Rugby World Cup


The All Blacks cruised through the pool games undefeated scoring over four tries a game. The team's biggest challenge so far was their hard-fought victory over the Argentinians in the quarterfinals. The All Blacks lost three players in five games, including the world's best fly half Dan Carter, to injuries.

Semi-finals
The All Blacks faced their traditional Trans-Tasman rival Australia in the semi-finals with history against both of them. Australia defeated defending champions South Africa in their quarterfinal match (history says that teams that defeated the defending champions eventually won the World Cup) and New Zealand has never beaten the Wallabies in the quadrennial tournament. Of course, no reigning Tri-Nations champions ever won the Rugby World Cup at the same year.

Anyway, the All Blacks played their best rugby in years and steamrolled the Aussies to 20-6 victory reaching the finals for the first time in 16 years. In an almost perfect performance, the All Blacks countered everything what the Wallabies thrown at them, shutting down the Aussies while fighting for the ball whether if it’s in the air or in the ground.

Finals

The All Blacks faced another long-time rival France in a fitting replay of 1987 Rugby World Cup final. The finals was a close match, the French's intimidating defense limited the All Blacks to just one try by Tony Woodcock but in the end, New Zealand won 8-7 over France. To sum it up: Stephen Donald came on.. Nek Minnit.. New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup!



New Zealand Rugby World Cup Squad:

Forwards:

Hookers
Corey Flynn (Canterbury)
Andrew Hore (Taranaki)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland)

Props
John Afoa (Auckland)
Ben Franks (Tasman)
Owen Franks (Canterbury)
Tony Woodcock (North Harbour)

Locks
Anthony Boric (North Harbour)
Brad Thorn (Canterbury)*
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury)
Ali Williams (Auckland)

Loose forwards
Jerome Kaino (Auckland)*
Richie McCaw (Canterbury)*
Kieran Read (Canterbury)*
Adam Thomson (Otago)
Victor Vito (Wellington)


Backs:

Halfbacks
Jimmy Cowan (Southland)
Andy Ellis (Canterbury)
Piri Weepu (Wellington)*

First five–eighths
Daniel Carter (Canterbury)*
Colin Slade (Canterbury)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu)
Stephen Donald (Waikato)

Midfielders
Richard Kahui (Waikato)*
Ma’a Nonu (Wellington)
Conrad Smith (Wellington)*
Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay)*
Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay)
Cory Jane (Wellington)*
Mils Muliaina (Waikato)
Isaia Toeava (Auckland)
Hosea Gear (Wellington)


Head Coach: Graham Henry
Assistant Coaches: Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith


New Zealand Schedule:

Pool A - Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Tonga
  • New Zealand 41 vs. 10 Tonga (September 9, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)
  • New Zealand 83 vs. 7 Japan (September 16, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand)
  • New Zealand 37 vs. 17 France (September 24, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)
  • New Zealand 79 vs. 15 Canada (October 2, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand)

Quarter-finals: New Zealand 33 vs. 10 Argentina (October 9, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)
Semi-finals: New Zealand 20 vs. 6 Australia (October 16, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)
Finals: New Zealand 8 vs. 7 France (October 23, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)

    New Zealand Win-Loss Record: 7-0


    New Zealand World Cup Record:

    1987: Champions (gold)
    1991: 3rd place (bronze)
    1995: Finalists (silver)
    1999: 4th place (semi-finalists)
    2003: 3rd place (bronze)
    2007: Quarter-finalists
    2011: Champions



    Rugby World Cup Holders:
    1987: New Zealand
    1991: Australia
    1995: South Africa
    1999: Australia
    2003: England
    2007: South Africa
    2011: New Zealand


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