After 45 matches across seven weeks in nine cities across France, the 2023 Rugby World Cup concludes on Saturday evening at the Stade de France.
South Africa and New Zealand meet in a rematch of their 1995 final in Johannesburg – a game which sparked a national movement.
Twenty-eight years from a scene which led to a Hollywood script, this weekend, two vie to become the first nation to win the Webb Ellis Trophy for a fourth time.
For the Springboks also, Rassie Erasmus’ side can become only the second team to retain their crown – after their opponents in Paris.
With history on the line this Saturday night, the All Black journey has come full-circle, and full-back Will Jordan could complete the final, unlikely steps to glory.
From the fire
Whilst the Kiwi’s path to the final last weekend was rather more by-the-numbers in a thumping of Argentina, South Africa’s spot was for large portions of their semi-final, wholly uncertain.
Indeed, as England fans still feel the twinges of pain after leading for 75 minutes last weekend, the Springboks’ win was literal victory from the jaws of defeat.
Needing a monster kick from Handre Pollard to reach their fourth showpiece, a weary South Africa struggled to get a grip of the game in the Parisian rain, but found a way.
After an ugly, gritty contest against the English, a chance to lock horns with New Zealand presents a different task.
If, as predicted that throws up an open contest not dissimilar to that of their scintillating quarter-final clash with the French, the ‘Boks will fancy their chances.
New Zealand, will of course, have other ideas.
It’s interesting to note, these two met in the final pre-tournament warm-up game at Twickenham, where the Springboks annihilated an indisciplined Kiwi outfit 35-7.
However, in the case of the All Blacks in particular, this is now a very different side.
Buoyant, and having rediscovered their relentless World Cup knowhow, coach Ian Foster has ridden the wave of his many critics and delivered the Kiwis to another final.
Mixed with the experience of the old guard Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett – three men who could be playing their swansong final appearance – Will Jordan has been a breath of fresh and the star of the show in France this Autumn.
The tournament’s leading try-scorer, eight times crossing the whitewash, the 25-year-old Crusader scored a hat-trick versus the Pumas last weekend.
New Zealand won’t be afforded the sheer space this time around, but Jordan will be eyeing number nine and potentially, double figures.
New Zealand are the marginal favourites to win a third World Cup in four attempts and are 4/5 with SpreadEx.
However, as an unbeaten side in finals also, the Springboks can match the run and physicality of their opponents.
A 5/4 shot with Betfred, Jordan should be the focus of punters in-game and is 11/8 anytime with SpreadEx to score a try.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 26, 2023
Meanwhile, both the All Blacks’ last two knockout games have seen 6+ tries, whilst South Africa’s documented meeting with New Zealand at the end of August also saw six scores.
Repeat number four is a decent 2/1 punt with William Hill.