World media reacts: All Blacks 'utterly paralysed by occasion'

By NZ Herald staff

The world media have lauded the All Blacks after their 8-7 victory over France in Sunday's Rugby World Cup final but there has also been plenty of praise for their opponents.

London's Daily Telegraph hailed the All Blacks as champions but its readers believed France should have won the Rugby World Cup final.

In a poll of readers, over two-thirds thought the French were the better team and deserved to win the match.

The poll result was in direct contrast to the newspaper's own news coverage of the final which hailed the All Blacks as worthy winners.

Its chief rugby writer, Mick Cleary, wrote:

"In the end New Zealand were just grateful to hang on, the forwards picking and going only inches at a time to run the clock down for four long minutes.

But they managed it, and the celebrations right throughout the land began. It was going to be a long night but a joyous one.

It was a deserved accolade to have claimed in the end for the double act of coach and captain, Graham Henry and Richie McCaw, these two great men warranted all the plaudits they would receive."

The Daily Telegraph gave its player ratings for the final, including an unheard of 10/10 rating for man of the match Thierry Dusautoir.

"The French captain was absolutely immense. He seems to always save his best for New Zealand"

MIke Catt, the former England player best known to New Zealand rugby fans for being on the receiving end of a Jonah Lomu rampage at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hailed Richie McCaw and Brad Thorn as their heroes of the night.

The Guardian said that the All Blacks simply had more will to win - or at least more fear of losing - despite being taken on so strongly by the French.

It said: "Back in Britain, there will be much gnashing of teeth. This was a French side effectively operating without a coach. New Zealand looked utterly paralysed by the occasion. Kiwi endeavour may have finally borne fruit but across Europe the sickly stench of missed opportunity will linger for months."

The BBC reported on the relief which swept across New Zealand after the All Blacks eked out a one point win over France.

"After 24 years of false dawns and ghastly upsets, there will be no holding back. The All Blacks' nerve-shredding 8-7 win over France meant many things - palpitations from Whangarei to Wanaka, the noisiest party in Auckland's 170-year-old history, countless hungover headaches across the land - but as you looked around Eden Park late on Sunday night, camera-flashes twinkling among the black-clad thousands in the stands like stars in the night sky, one emotion dominated all others: an enormous, unmistakable sense of relief."

The Sydney Morning Herald, too, concentrated less on the rugby and more on the euphoria which swept across the country after the win, ending nearly a quarter century of waiting to lift the Rugby World Cup again.

"Finally light, peace and relief for a long-suffering New Zealand. A country that has hemorrhaging badly through the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake and Pike River mining disaster can find relief in the fact that they are again officially the world's best in what they do best - playing, living and breathing rugby.

After all, it is their game. A rejuvenating game, but still a cruel game."

In Wales, which had been knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by a defensive effort by France in the semi-finals, readers were told that the French had played out of their skins but that the All Blacks just clung on for victory.

WalesOnline, the main online news site put it like this:

"France, though, delivered a performance of which few people thought they were capable, having lost to New Zealand and Tonga in the pool phase and then edged past 14-man semi-final opponents Wales.

But they shook, rattled and almost rolled over an All Blacks side that just about overcame debilitating big-night nerves.

France knocked New Zealand out of the 1999 and 2007 World Cups, and when their captain Thierry Dusautoir's 47th-minute try cancelled out All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock's first-half touchdown, a horrible case of deja vu beckoned for them."

The Financial Times, which has been covering the Rugby World Cup extensively, said the victory was an ugly one for the All Blacks and that the Rugby World Cup may come at an economic cost to the nation.

"The tense win was a fitting end to a tournament that has been widely hailed as a sporting success, despite losing money overall. Rugby New Zealand, the organisers, admitted on Friday that the event would ultimately lose about NZ$40m (£20.1m). Economic analysis from Centre for the International Business of Sport at Coventry University, however, claimed the tournament's wider effects would provide an immediate net $491m (£311m) boost to New Zealand's economy"

The Melbourne Herald Sun and Sydney's Daily Telegraph, usually more focused on the AFL or league matters, named its two players of the tournament: Richie McCaw for his leadership and Jerome Kaino for his muscling play.

The Guardian this morning produced the best headline of the Rugby World Cup final, saying the All Black rugby aristocrats just survived the French revolution.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2011/oct/23/rugby-world-cup-final-france
"They say that France lost the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but we don't have to believe it if we don't want to. With everything stacked against them, they produced the performance that gave the tournament a most memorable climax."

The South African Mail and Guardian website emphasises the word, "Finally" as it covers the All Blacks titanic victory to win the Rugby World Cup for only the second time since 1987.

But it points out that the second half largely belonged to France.

"French coach Marc Lièvremont must have delivered a stern half time talk to his troops, as it was a different outfit that pushed New Zealand to the limit in the second half."

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