by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
I have been saying for some weeks that France still have a big game in them, and of course, they held it back until the final of the World Cup, and confirmed that they have no idea when they are going to play well, but they are always very very good rugby players. When France become a sum of their individual parts they are dynamic, physical and just awesome to watch - fortunately for the Rugby World Cup, they delivered on the biggest stage of all - and in doing so, made New Zealand grind out a win that they needed so badly.
I have always enjoyed listening to the debate on North v South Hemisphere rugby, and I think the final last night confirmed that if you want to be World Champions, you have to win no matter what you face, you have to be real students of the game and you have to find a way to win, on the days when things aren't going as planned. New Zealand failed to progress at the last two World Cups because they only had a plan 'A', last night they were more comfortable when it came to closing out the game, grinding out the win and realizing what it takes to win a World Cup final - that could be bad news for the rest of World Rugby (the All Blacks have worked out how to win World Cups).
Congratulations to Richie McCaw, Graham Henry, Steve Hanson and Wayne Smith, they have had to deal with more pressure than any other competing team. Steve Tew (CEO) and his Board made a tough call between Robbie Deans and Graham Henry at the last World Cup, they have delivered a memorable World Class event and should receive plenty of accolades for the roles they have played in delivering the Rugby World Cup to the rugby mad New Zealand public.
Time will stand still in New Zealand for the next few weeks as they savour the spoils of victory, France will return home as heroes (for doing what French teams do at World Cups), Wales will wish they had kicked those vital points in the semi final and the gloves will come off in England and the real fight for power will begin. At the next World Cup we will see a new South Africa and Ireland, iconic figures like Matfield, O'Driscoll and many others are unlikely to be seen again on the World stage. Its a shame that some of the top players make such a quiet exit when their team leave the World Cup. Their service to the game should never be forgotten, for the joy they have brought to millions of fans across the World and for the part they have played in taking the game to new levels - they should all be congratulated.
Over all, a fantastic tournament once again and we are all looking forward to England 2015...
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
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