Aussies, All Blacks, 80,000 fans and a series of firsts combine to make tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup final a scintillating proposition for rugby fans, tipsters, pundits and punters alike.
The historic encounter features all kinds of possible new rugby records being set but the most important will be which team comes first at the end of the competition.
1st Triple Winner
Australia and New Zealand have faced each other more than 150 times and dominated world rugby for decades, but this is the first time they have met in the final.
Both countries have won the World Cup twice but no nation has ever won it three times so whoever prevails tomorrow, they will be the first triple winners. (South Africa are also double winners and England are the only other team to have won the trophy since its inauguration in 1987.)
If the All Blacks win they will also become the first team to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy.
1st in 4 years
New Zealand have only lost three out of their last 53 matches since winning the World Cup in 2011 but online rugby tipsters will note that one of them was to Australia in August – the first victory for the Wallabies over the All Blacks in four years.
Michael Cheika has revived the Aussies from a struggling side just a year ago and transformed them into possible world beaters in his first year in charge as coach.
Australia have included victories over England, Wales, Scotland and a semi-final win over Argentina en-route to the final.
1st for McCaw
It will be the first final – and very likely last ever international match – for the All Black’s legendary captain Richie McCaw.
He said: “I don’t really care how the game is as long as we win,” and his sentiments were echoed by head coach Steve Hansen, who said: “It’s not about doing anything magical, it’s about getting the basic things right.
“We have a game plan that’s about making space and scoring tries, but I don’t really care what sort of game it is as long as we win.
“We don’t want to get carried away, to do things differently because it is the final. We know what works for us – the formula’s pretty proven – and we need to stick to that and make good decisions.”
Having escaped a possible citation for an elbow against South Africa in the semi, McCaw is set to extend his record for the most Test caps by earning his 148 for the All Blacks.
He missed out on the 2011 final through injury and will be hoping team mate and fellow All Black legend Dan Carter can extend his own point scoring record in Test rugby. Carter’s prowess with the boot has taken him more than 300 points clear of the second all time Test points scorer, England and Lions star Jonny Wilkinson, and Carter is all but guaranteed to add to his 1,579 total.
Winger Julian Savea is also eyeing a personal record and will claim the outright title of top try scorer in a World Cup if he touches down another. Savea has scored eight tries so far and is equal with former All Black Jonah Lomu and South Africa’s Bryan Habana.
However, Australia’s winger Drew Mitchell is just one try short of the esteemed trio and two or more at Twickenham will see him take that particular title.
The game will the 155th test match between New Zealand and Australia – an encounter the All Blacks have dominated with 105 wins compared to the Wallabies’ 42.
There have been seven draws in all, but that won’t happen tomorrow.
By: Joe Cahal