DStv Channel 403 Sunday, 21 April 2024

Boks expect 'grind' against All Black rivals in World Cup final

PARIS - Defending champions South Africa expect Saturday's Rugby World Cup final against "greatest foes" New Zealand to be a "grind" as both teams eye what would be a record fourth tournament title.

The Springboks and All Blacks share an unparallelled rivalry in the oval-ball sport and have reached the final at the Stade de France thanks largely to dramatic, quarter-final victories over France and Ireland, both of whom were fancied to make the latter stages.

South Africa have never lost a World Cup final, winning the 1995, 2007 and 2019 editions, but coach Jacques Nienaber predicts a tight final, a "grind".

New Zealand won in 1987, 2011 and 2015, but lost that 1995 final to the Springboks in a moment made special by Nelson Mandela's rallying call as South Africa embarked on its arduous voyage away from the dark days of apartheid.

"This is what we live for, it's about the people who are dreaming to be in our position in the communities back in South Africa," said assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

"We just want to do everything in our power to make sure we are reuniting those people."

- Once in a lifetime -

Nienaber, whose Boks lost 13-8 to Ireland in pool play, said a final pitching the two rivals together "will never happen in our lifetime again".

"The All Blacks have won the World Cup three times, we have won it three times, so this game is almost bigger than just a World Cup final," added Stick.

"Whoever wins is going to have bragging rights for the next four years."

All Blacks coach Ian Foster, whose team went down 27-13 to hosts France in the opening game of the tournament in early September, added that the final featured "two teams who have been old foes for a long time".

"We all remember the last final between us (in 1995), which was an epic, and hopefully this one will be the same. Then you do the maths and we've got three World Cups each and someone is going to win four, so it's a special occasion, isn't it?"

All that is left is for the two teams to renew their rivalry at the Stade de France.

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