Tuesday marks exactly 30 years since the All Blacks won the first Rugby World Cup, but for many of the heroes of that historic campaign thrashing France in the Eden Park final feels like only yesterday, writes Wynne Gray

Team talks arrive in many guises but thinking about the correct balance and tone can leave the coach more on edge than the players.

Thirty years ago, Brian Lochore felt content enough about the instructions he'd given the All Blacks before they left the Poenamo Hotel on Auckland's North Shore for the bus ride to the first World Cup final against France.

"The next part, I'll never forget," he recalled. "There must have been about 500 people at the Po to support the team that day, clapping and encouraging the players and that gave it all an extra edge.


"That was the icing for the players to show them the country was right behind them.

"It had been a bloody tough month but we had shown we were ahead of the others. No one had played six games in a month and you had to be fit for that. Our self-motivation was excellent, we were confiden tabout what we were doing and we were the fittest team at the tournament."

The All Blacks were a young squad with great potential in a core of strong provincial players from Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington who'd competed against each other but not played much together.

They amalgamated their talents to drive a new style of play which they refined throughout the event.

"We'd smashed Wales in the semifinal in Brisbane by more than we expected and we were peaking and that is the difficult thing to do in those types of tournament," captain David Kirk said about the 1987 final.

"There was a mixture of confidence, self-belief and anxiety. "

The All Blacks knew they were good enough to become the first World Cup champions but carried a layer of anxiety about something going awry or not taking their chances as the pressure ramped up.

They played strong low-risk rugby, driving the ball up the field for several phases with their power runners and then making their moves.

After one sequence, Kirk ran the blindside, Michael Jones made the crucial thrust through the advantage to offload to Grant Fox, then back to Kirk, who dived in for the try.

As John Kirwan and John Gallagher celebrated with Kirk, who exultantly smashed his fist into the Eden Park turf, the All Black captain knew the match was won.

"When I hit the ground, it was the great joy of scoring and I knew we were going to win the World Cup because we had got far enough ahead."

High in the stands, Lochore and assistants John Hart and Alex Wyllie had similar thoughts.

Their coaching and selection alliance was one of the key planks in the campaign after an initial hiccup.

"At our first training run for the tournament, all three of us were there and after that, I said we'd never do that again. It was too messy, too many voices," Lochore said.

"So I decided when we were in the North Island, Hart would come in, Wyllie would do the same in the South Island, and when we had a team run, I would take that.

"That worked much better. We operated as a total team, we knew what we wanted to do and we were prepared to run the ball and play at a different pace to take the sting out of the opposition.

"All three of us believed the only way we were going to win that World Cup was to play at a high speed because we didn't have the forwards to take on Australia and France in heavy forward battles.

"We were convinced we had the right players for a high tempo game and they bought into it. We had a list of about 50 players we had contacted - none of them knew about the others - and got them into tip-top condition through Jim Blair so they were able to go full-tilt at the trials."

The other issue Lochore said was not spoken about at great length was to make sure there was no carryover disruption or bitterness from the Cavaliers tour the year before.

The All Blacks needed to win over the country's trust in the way they played, talked and represented themselves.

"There was a residual effect from the Cavaliers. Early on, if the guys went downtown, they never wore anything to identify themselves as All Blacks in case they were abused. I'd sampled that backlash myself. As the tournament went on, they became much happier together and proud to be identified as All Blacks."

Easy wins came against Italy and Fiji before their final pool match in Wellington against a much tougher Argentina team. A change of emphasis was needed and Lochore decided to take the squad north to Wairarapa where training was postponed and players were billeted in pairs and mucked in beside the rural community.

Links between rugby and the national spirit were reinforced and connections were boosted in those few days which carried the All Blacks through tough times and into the winner's spotlight at Eden Park in late June.

"There has been talk about reunions and one of the ideas was to reenact those days up at Pirinoa and get billeted again with the same families," Lochore said.

"Those I spoke to thought that would be the ultimate, they'd jump at it."

The All Blacks beat the Pumas, then the Scots before they made another diversion to Te Aute College, wherethe pupils greeted the All Blacks with a haka which spread further messages of support to the side. Wales were dismembered in the semifinals before the French were broken down and the Webb Ellis Cup awarded to the All Blacks.