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New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ winner of the Rugby World Cup 2011 – first time to claim the title in 24 years

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New Zealand win Rugby World Cup 2011

New Zealand win Rugby World Cup 2011

BY CORINNE GUBBA

New Zealand were the favourites to win the Rugby World Cup 2011 and they have finally done it, with a magnificent match against France in the Final at Eden Park in Auckland. The final score was 8-7 to New Zealand.

“The people have been outstanding . . . the people who have supported this team and have supported this World Cup – I am so proud to be a New Zealander standing here,” Quote from All Blacks coach Graham Henry just before the Webb Ellis Cup was lifted by captain Richie McCaw. “There was bit of turmoil up there . . . but reflect over the last seven weeks what these people have done throughout the country . . . and Richie and the boys just hanging in there right through the match for 80 minutes to win this match is superb.

“As a day this is something we have dreamed of for a while – we can rest in peace.”

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Stephen Donald goes from zero to hero as All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup – and Richie McCaw gets the last laugh

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A fairytale World Cup debut for Stephen Donald

A fairytale Rugby World Cup debut for fourth choice fly-half Stephen Donald

BY JOHN GUBBA

There was a touch of French farce about the way the All Blacks ended 24 years of hurt to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Not for the first time since New Zealand claimed the first World Cup on home soil back in 1987, it looked like the Blacks were going to choke again and leave their fanatical fans frustrated by an unlikely defeat at the hands of the rank outsiders France.

For Stephen Donald, previously the most unpopular fly-half in New Zealand, to come off the bench and kick the penalty that turned out to be the match winner was  the most unlikely scenario you could possibly imagine.

Rugby Masterclass DVD

Rugby Masterclass DVD

Fourth-choice Donald, who has at least three Facebook pages dedicated to condemning his performances as an All Black, was only on the pitch because the injury curse that previously ruled out Dan Carter and Colin Slade claimed Aaron Cruden at the end of the first half. Not only was he making his World Cup debut, he confidently took over the goalkicking duty from misfiring Piri Weepu and landed the 46th-minute penalty that turned out to be the winning points, following the first half try by Tony Woodcock.

France stormed back with a converted try from by their inspirational captain Thierry Dusautoir that left the hosts desperately holding on by a single point at 8-7. But All Blacks weathered wave after wave of attacks to seal victory and spark scenes of wild jubilation at Eden Park.

When All Blacks’ captain Richie McCaw – the most popular man in New Zealand – told a live TV audience the encounter had left him “absolutely shagged” it was hard not to smile.

http://youtu.be/C2Pzsfc2OTs

Tribute to England's greatest try-scorer

Tribute to England's greatest try-scorer

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Why Wales will be kicking themselves for missing their chance for glory at the 2011 Rugby World Cup

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Wales fan sheds a tear when the team loses the rugby world cup semi-final against France

Wales fan sheds a tear when the team loses the rugby world cup semi-final against France

BY JOHN GUBBA

In the cold light of day Wales’ 2011 Rugby World Cup record reads four wins and three defeats, after the 21-18 deafeat by Australia in the Third Place Final.

The proud Welsh who battled so bravely against adversity will point to the narrow margins of defeat – beaten by a single point by both South Africa in the Group stage and then France in the semi-final.  But the truth is that there was something missing from Warren Gatland’s side. And it wasn’t just their skipper after the match-changing red card for Sam Warburton against the French.

In all three defeats for Wales it was a story of crucial kicks that could have won them the game.

This time it was James Hook who squandered the points that should have beaten Australia. In the semis Stephen Jones hit the post with the conversion which would have snatched the lead, and Leigh Halfpenny then came up just short with a long-range penalty at the death. And against defending world champions South Africa Wales were infamously denied by Hook’s first-half penalty which narrowly cleared the posts but was wrongly ruled a miss.

The harsh reality is that Wales came up short because they just weren’t good enough.

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Wales the toast of New Zealand guaranteed home support in Rugby World Cup third place final

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Wales Rugby World Cup 2011 team

Wales Rugby World Cup 2011 team

BY JOHN GUBBA

When Wales take on Australia in the the third place final at the Rugby World Cup it will be all about ending this marathon tournament with a taste of glory

Any suggestion that this is a game no one wants to take part in is just disrespectful to the sport, the players and both nations.

It will be no consolation for missing out on the final they so deserved to reach, but you can bet your last dollar that this is a game the proud Welshmen desperately want to win.

Wales have won so many admirers for their outstanding contribution to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. And host nation New Zealand would absolutely love to see them overpower the Wallabies.

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All Blacks claim date with destiny by crushing Wallabies – but only by beating France in the final will pride be restored

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BY JOHN GUBBA

When Ma’a Nonu galloped through to touch down a beautiful try set up be the genius of Israel Dagg, it was a moment of pure magic that sent New Zealand on their way to an outstanding semi-final victory over Australia. The host nation celebrated as though they had won the tournament – and no one in their right mind will back against the All Blacks finishing off the job in next Sunday’s final against France. But only when the deed is done can the real party begin.

Anything but an All Black victory in the Final is impossible to imagine on the evidence of the two semi-finals.  That glorious early try by Nonu was one of the stand-out moments of the entire tournament and the majesty of the forward play that squeezed the life out of the Wallabies answered all the doubters who feared the All Blacks would choke again on the biggest stage in world rugby. This was the biggest test of all against their fiercest rivals.

New Zealand vs France. Rugby World Cup 2011 Final

2011 Rugby World Cup Final - a repeat of 1987

After France held on against the 14-men of Wales in the previous day’s semi-final ruined by the controversial red card for Welsh skipper Sam Warburton, most observers regarded the Southern Hemisphere showdown as the final in all but name. But there is no room for complacency in sport – and the All Blacks know they dare not fail again.

Since winning the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 when they beat France in the Final, the All Blacks have failed to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy and back up their claims to be the world’s leading rugby national. It is a failure that has earned New Zealand the reputation of being the biggest chokers in sport. But you will get long odds on France beating the hosts this time.

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Beat the Scots and England can reach a third successive Rugby World Cup Final

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By John Gubba

At last it’s getting serious at the 2011 Rugby World Cup – and there is much more than a quarter-final stake at place in England’s final group match against Scotland.

Defeat by Argentina means it’s win or bust for the Scots, who need an 8-point victory margin to stay in the tournament and send England home.

England vs Scotland - Rugby World Cup 2011

England vs Scotland - Rugby World Cup 2011

Making it all the more exciting is that England will fancy their chances of going all the way to a third successive World Cup Final if they beat Scotland and claim no.1 spot in their group.

Topping the group means England will avoid host nation New Zealand, the red hot favourites, and instead meet a France team in meltdown.

And then the odds are that victory will land a semi-final showdown with Ireland or Wales.

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Rugby World Cup: South Africa 87-0 Namibia – What’s the point?

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BY JOHN GUBBA

The problem with the Rugby World Cup is that the format of the tournament is damaging to the sport because there are too many matches that are embarrassingly one-sided.

Too many meaningless games at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand

Too many meaningless games at the Rugby World Cup

Sport is of no interest when you know what the result is going to be before the match has started. And nobody outside the two competing nations cares that South Africa trashed Namibia 87-0 and romped home with no fewer than 12 tries. Big deal. Wake me up when the real tournament starts in the quarter-final knockout stages.

I am all in favour of giving the emerging nations a platform at the Rugby World Cup. But in my opinion it would be far more exciting for everyone concerned if the the tournament was seeded so that the group stages are only contested by the weaker nations.

Rugby Master Class DVD: Train with the rugby legends - Rugby World Cup Special - click to buy

Rugby Master Class DVD: Train with the rugby legends - Rugby World Cup Special - click to buy

Why not give the top eight countries a bye to the knockout stages – and the rest can play out the group stages to compete for another eight places so we start the sudden death part of the tournament with the top 16 nations. Now that would raise the stakes and cut out the meaningless walkovers.

If that is too radical we could use the same formula and the last 16 could be split into four groups of  four teams competing for a place in the quarter-finals. Either way it would be far more exciting than the current out-dated format being played out in New Zealand.

 

Rugby fans want to see golden rugby like this classic try scored by France against New Zealand at the 2007 Rugby World Cup . . .

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Irish upset for the Wallabies is priceless for the Rugby World Cup

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Irish eyes smiling after one of their country's greatest wins in the Rugby World Cup

Irish eyes smiling after one of their country's greatest wins in the Rugby World Cup

 

The Official Tribute to Rory Underwood - click to buy

The Official Tribute to Rory Underwood - click to buy

BY JOHN GUBBA

Ireland’s stunning 15-6 win over Australia is just what the Rugby World Cup needed. And it is no more than the Irish deserved for producing a magnificent performance at Eden Park.

There is nothing more boring in sport than knowing who is going to win every match in the opening stages of a major tournament. And while we have had a few close calls for the favourites so far, this was the first upset. Where Wales failed to take their chance of upsetting South Africa in a thrilling 17-16 defeat last weekend, not helped by being denied a penalty that clearly went over the posts, there was no way the Irish were going to let the Wallabies off the hook.

Jumping for joy! Irish fans celebrate

Jumping for joy! Irish fans celebrate

Intriguingly, if Ireland can now win Pool D they will expect to play either Wales or Samoa in the quarter-finals and that will give them a great chance of reaching the final four for the first time.

Two penalties and a drop goal from Jonathan Sexton and another two penalties from Ronan O’Gara proved decisive as the Irish pack, and their scrum in particular, secured the of the great wins in the history of Irish sport.

“It was the performance we knew we had in us,” said jubilant Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, who was thrilled with his team’s performance and the amazing support of the traveling fans.  But the skipper insisted: “It’s just half the job done. As much as we’ll enjoy this, let’s not lose sight there are two more games.”

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It’s all over for Andrew Flintoff – the Ashes hero who should have achieved so much more

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Andrew Flintoff will always be remembered as the face of England’s Ashes triumph of 2005 – but the larger than life Lancashire legend’s premature, injury-enforced retirement is shrouded with a sense of unfulfilled potential.

The flamboyant all-rounder, who  has seen a number of return dates come and go in his fight to overcome a chronic knee problem, reluctantly retires from all forms of cricket at the age of just 32 after being told his body would not be able to cope with his planned comeback. Flintoff has not played a cricket match since the final match of the Ashes series last summer when he played a critical role in England regaining the urn.

Andrew Flintoff announces his retirement

Andrew Flintoff announces his retirement

The Lancastrian played 79 Tests and 141 one-day internationals, scoring 3,845 Test runs – including five centuries – averaging 31.77. He took 226 Test wickets and scored 3,394 runs in ODIs, taking 169 wickets. But there is so much more ‘Freddie’ – who so often hit the headlines for being a rascal – could have achieved.

Flintoff initially planned to play for Lancashire this summer and was reportedly in negotiations to play domestic Twenty20 cricket in Australia and New Zealand, but he has now accepted his professional career is over.

“I had a scan at the beginning of the week which confirmed what I suspected – that the knee wasn’t quite right and I had a meeting in Glasgow yesterday with the surgeon,” Flintoff told Sky Sports News.

“He just confirmed that the operation I had 12 months ago has been fine but not good enough to start playing cricket again. Although I was hopeful of playing a few weeks ago for Lancashire second team, in my own mind I wasn’t quite right.

“I’m not quite sure it’s sunk in. I think it’s going to take a while. The decision’s been made for me. In some ways it’s good it is the end of the season so I can almost pretend I’m going to start playing next year. It’s going to be difficult, it’s something I’ve done professionally for nearly 17 years. Since I was a kid all I’ve wanted was to play cricket.”

Flintoff added: “I really thought I’d have another two or three years playing at Lancashire especially. But it’s just not to be. There was always that hope I was going to get back so there was always something to work for. Whether it was the three years of rehab that I’ve been doing over the past five, the carrot at the end of it was that I’d get back in the dressing room, get back out on the cricket field and have the chance to represent firstly Lancashire and then England. That’s gone now. I’m no longer a cricketer. It’s something I’m going to have to deal with.

“I’m going to go back to Dubai and spend time with my family, re-assess and look at my options and see where it takes me.”

He admitted, though, there was a certain sense of relief that a decision had been made one way or the other.

“I suppose in some ways going and seeing the surgeon I wanted a decision either way,” he added on Sky Sports News. “I wanted him to say ‘you’re going to be fine, do your rehab, I’ll get you playing again in January’. That would have been the ideal scenario. Or say ‘your knee’s no good, do something else’.

“I think it would have been hard if it had been a 50-50 decision or 60-40 in my favour. Because at this point in my life I can’t wait around and the sides that I play for can’t wait around for ever. I’ve got to focus my energy into something else and build a new career which at 32, nearly 33, could be the longest career I have.”

16 SEPTEMBER 2010

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Written by visionsport.TV

September 16th, 2010 at 8:00 pm