A Rugby World Cup Final is the pinnacle of our sport, it is what our elite players strive to be a part of during every moment of their careers and it is what they dream about when they are children. Fans from across the world had made the journey to South West London in order to be able to say 'I was there' and none were disappointed with the ensuing eighty minutes of rugby. The Rugby World Cup 2015 was, without question, one of the greatest of the lot as to great neighbours and rivals duelled in pursuit of history.
Finals are often won by moments of brilliance that change the game and the introduction of Sonny Bill Williams provided just that. Conrad Smith had enjoyed a blistering first half so the tactical call to replace him was a brave one from Steve Hansen. Sonny Bill Williams defines the term 'super sub' and his two sensational offloads set up Ma'a Nonu's try. It was there and then after 42 minutes that the collective feeling was that the night belonged to New Zealand and it could get ugly for Australia. However, the Wallabies showed their tenacity and fight as Ben Smith's sin bin gave them a window and they went for broke. Tevita Kuridrani's score pushed them right back in the match and the murmurs started to build 'they could do this and it would be sensational'.
When you think of the ten jersey and the best that there has been two names come to mind; Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter. On the greatest stage of all with the pressure of a four year wait on his shoulders the All Black took himself and his team to another level. A 45 metre drop goal reinstated their calm confidence and his final conversion of the evening took his personal tally to 19 points. Carter was utterly spell binding and finished his test career with one of his most complete performances of all.
Ultimately for Australia it was not to be, they'd given their all to Rugby World Cup 2015 and on the night were out muscled by the greatest sporting side we have ever seen. The Australian contribution to this tournament has been sensation from Pocock and Hooper teaching the world about breakdown play to their improved scrummage. The progression that Michael Cheika has achieved in the space of 11 months is outstanding and I hope that when the dusts settles every single member of the squad looks back at their campaign with huge pride.
Creating history happens to but a few people in their lifetime and finding the right words to describe doing so would fox some however the man at the heart of the All Blacks didn't struggle;
"This is the proudest moment of my career," said Richie McCaw. "We said after winning the World Cup four years ago that we get straight back on the road again and we did. We finished the final well and that has been a mark of this team since 2011. We played some damned good rugby, and although we lost a bit of composure in the second half, we came home strongly."
'Sir' Richie still doesn't want to hang up his boots and can you blame the man that has played more International tests than any other individual, has the highest winning percent of any International captain and the man that quite simply lives for rugby. The 'R' word, retirement, hasn't been formally mentioned however you suspect that after 148 tests and his second victorious Rugby World Cup Final he may consider handing the jersey and the captaincy to another. Immediately after the final his words are focused on the moment;
"I still don't want it to end to be honest. At the moment I am still part of this team. I am going to enjoy today and, how could you get enough of this? Having played in a wonderful World Cup final with a great bunch of men, I'm just so proud and honoured to wear this jersey again today and I don't think you can get enough of that. If you get moments like this, why would you ever call it a day?"
And so now after 44 days, 2,439 points and 271 tries we look ahead to Rugby World Cup 2019. The Japanese recorded their own significant piece of sporting history during this tournament and their progression as a national side will have inspired their nation to be ready for the task of surpassing this tournament.
In four years time some individuals that graced the stage in 2015 will take to the field again however others, some of the true greats of the modern era, will be spectators. The past six weeks have showcased the very best of our great sport and have been a pleasure and a joy to be a part of. Now together we all begin the countdown to Japan 2019 and in case you were wondering as of Monday 2nd November, it is just 1,418 days until the first day the 2019 competition.