New mum and rugby fan Rachelle Atherton says giving birth was more intense than watching the All Blacks hang on to beat France by one point in the World Cup final - but not by much.

The 34-year-old Hamilton woman gave birth to son Jude William Atherton nine minutes into Sunday's match - but still managed to catch the last minutes of the game.

Jude arrived 10 weeks early, weighing only 1.7kg.

It was a huge shock for Rachelle and her husband Scott, who never expected their son to arrive at such important time.


"But Jude had other plans'', she said.

"Definitely the delivery was more intense but it was a nerve-wracking final. I'd had a few updates throughout (the delivery), but to see the score the way it was, was quite a shock,'' she said.

Mrs Atherton's water broke last Wednesday and she was admitted to Waikato Hospital in preparation for the delivery.

But the rugby fan didn't want to miss the final.

"I begged them for a leave pass to watch the final at my dad's house.''

However, she went into labour about 3pm and Jude arrived about six hours later, giving the new parents just enough time to catch the final nailbiting stages.

"We managed to sit down in the foyer of the delivery suite and watch the last 10 minutes of the game. It was very surreal,'' said Mr Atherton, who is Australian.

They named him Jude because Mr Atherton is a big Beatles fan and "it's a strong name'', he said.


The couple believe their son may be destined to play rugby, given the timing of his birth, but would be happy for him to represent New Zealand or Australia.

"He's our little ANZAC,'' said Mr Atherton. "We're going to let him grow up and decide who he wants to play for.''

Jude is being kept in an incubator in hospital to be monitored but his parents hope to have him home by Christmas.