After a month and a half of rugby, there are now two teams remaining to contest the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks enter the game unbeaten in the tournament, while France enter the final having lost two Pool stage games. The final will be played at 7:00 PM AEDT on Sunday at Eden Park in Auckland.
World Cup Form
France qualified as the runner up in Pool A. They defeated England in the quarter-finals and Wales in the semi-finals.
Pool: France 47-21 Japan
Pool: France 46-19 Canada
Pool: France 17-37 New Zealand
Pool: France 14-19 Tonga
QF: France 19-12 England
SF: France 9-8 Wales
New Zealand qualified as the winner of Pool A. They defeated Argentina in the quarter-finals and Australia in the semi-finals.
Pool: New Zealand 41-10 Tonga
Pool: New Zealand 83-7 Japan
Pool: New Zealand 37-17 France
Pool: New Zealand 79-15 Canada
QF: New Zealand 33-10 Argentina
SF: New Zealand 20-6 Australia
Below are the full knock-out stage results.
Even at the semi-finals stage the All Blacks were the only undefeated team left in the tournament. France lost two pool stage games, one of which was a 20-point loss to the All Blacks. The French then found some form at the right time, and beat England before sneaking past a 14-man Wales. New Zealand certainly enter this fixture in the best and most consistent form of the two sides.
Recent Head to Head History
|Sep 2011||Rugby World Cup||New Zealand 37 – 17 France|
|Nov 2009||Test Match||France 12 – 39 New Zealand|
|Jun 2009||Test Match||New Zealand 14 – 10 France|
|Jun 2009||Test Match||New Zealand 22 – 27 France|
|Oct 2007||Rugby World Cup||France 20 – 18 New Zealand|
|Jun 2007||Test Match||New Zealand 61 – 10 France|
|Jun 2007||Test Match||New Zealand 42 – 11 France|
While the All Blacks typically get the better of France, their 2009 loss in Dunedin highlights France’s ability to win in New Zealand. Interestingly, in 1999 and 2007, when New Zealand was knocked out of the World Cup by France, on both occasions the All Blacks had imposed heavy defeats on France earlier that year. In their June clash before the 2007 World Cup New Zealand won 61-10 and in June 1999 New Zealand won 54-7. It just goes to show the wildcard element that Rugby World Cups bring to international Test matches.
France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili, Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape; Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Bench: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Francois Trinh-Duc, Jean Marc Doussain, Damien Traille.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Bench: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams.
After defeating their local nemesis Australia last week, New Zealand now take on their World Cup nemesis France. In 1999 and 2007 France came back from half-time deficits to knock the All Blacks out of the World Cup, so revenge will be on the minds of the All Blacks on Sunday. This time, however, France take on a hardened All Blacks side that will be playing at Eden Park, which has been a fortress for New Zealand rugby of late.
The Kiwis will be relieved to hear that the match referee will be the South African Craig Joubert. Joubert and the All Blacks know each other well, and he oversaw New Zealand’s win over Australia last week. New Zealand have complained about harsh refereeing decisions by northern hemisphere officials in previous World Cups, so the appointment of a South African that they know well is a huge plus for them.
The contrasting forms of the two sides has resulted in the All Blacks being installed as the heavy favourites, and their 37-17 Pool stage win over France has led most to predict a 20-point margin on Sunday. The All Blacks have a history of starting well against France, and if they are able to do so on Sunday, then the French will find it extremely difficult to get back into the match in front of a packed Eden Park crowd. However, if France can get off to a flyer, memories of 1999 and 2007 will resurface in New Zealand minds, and the French could take the local supporters out of the game.
Based on their 2011 World Cup forms to date, it’s hard to be optimistic about France’s chances; however I will not rule them out, because if France play at their very best they are capable of a major upset. Looking at their current form, though, I predict a comfortable All Blacks victory. The French have been divisive in their camp, while New Zealand has been a solid unit throughout the tournament. The All Blacks made a good Wallabies outfit look very poor last week, and if they can play with the same confidence and intensity, then a blowout is possible.
|bet365 odds||France||New Zealand|
|Head to head||8.00||1.11|
|Line||(-16.5) 1.90||(+16.5) 1.90|
When I look at a fixture from a betting perspective I try to visualise the scenarios that could play out, and two spring to mind here. The first scenario is that the All Blacks play with the same intensity as last week and blow France off the field. The 37-17 score line in the Pool stage flattered France, with an intercept try and a try that arguably should not have been awarded included in their 17 points. If New Zealand get off to a strong start then a 30+ score line is possible. A second scenario is that the All Blacks either choke under the pressure or the French turn on a magical display that we all know they’re capable of. In this case France could sneak home by a few points. For this reason New Zealand 13+ and France 1-12 are two margins that stand out to me.
Line betting is tricky in this fixture, because a lot will come down to the All Blacks kicking. Ignoring drop goal attempts, a total of 14 points went begging as New Zealand’s kickers were off the radar in their 20-6 win last week, and a similar kicking display will keep the French much closer. In their semi-final, France were 3/3, so you can expect them to make the most of their opportunities on Sunday. I understand that Weepu was under the weather last weekend, so if he plays fit I would expect a better kicking display for the final.
I share the opinion of most people in that I expect New Zealand to win by 20-points on Sunday to claim their second Rugby World Cup title.
Below are some betting suggestions, depending on how aggressive you wish to be.
- Conservative: back both New Zealand to win by 13+ (1.72 – Sportingbet) and France to win by 1-12 (8.50) (i.e. $8.32 on New Zealand 13+ and $1.68 on France 1-12 for around a $4.20 profit if either gets up)
- Moderate: back New Zealand to win by 13+ (1.72 – Sportingbet)
- Aggressive: back New Zealand -16.5 (1.90)
- Very aggressive: back the half-time/full-time double result New Zealand-France (21.00)