Rugby World Cup 2011 Final: France vs. New Zealnd Preview and Prediction

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Rugby World Cup 2011 Final: France vs. New Zealnd Preview and Prediction
Stu Forster/Getty Images

I was at work in Fremantle while New Zealand played Australia, and though I had the game recording at home I knew I wouldn't need to see it.

The All Black victory was obvious because the Wallabies fans, who were watching the match in the bar across the way, oozed out onto the side walk with their faces down to their knees in drunken melancholy, instead of bursting out in fits of Aussie pride.

So the final match, between Les Bleus of France and the All Blacks of New Zealand is set for October 23, a match many think will result with New Zealand as 2011 World Cup champions.

I am not one of those many.

Yesterday, I expressed my contrary view to a coworker, a Scott who once played for the Highlanders under 18 team, and he looked at me like I was crazy and said, "No way. New Zealand man."

My colleague was right when he said rugby is the national sport of New Zealand and it is something they are extremely passionate about and the final will be played on All Black soil.

Noted.

Rugby has been New Zealand's national sport in the past and the All Blacks have been disappointed time and time again in the World Cup.

But the past is the past, and how New Zealand played in the 1995 World Cup, or any World Cup from yesteryear, will have little effect on the match next week.

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France, however, will.

The French have shown the ability to win a variety of different games throughout the World Cup.

In the past two weeks alone, the French have shown explosiveness and athleticism, when they beat England 19 to 12, and they also proved they can grind it out, and win ugly if need be, when they beat Wales 9 to 8.

There has been a common thread running through every match of this years World Cup. Games are either won or lost by the foot. The french duo of Dimitri Yachvili and Morgan Para have been exact on converting kicks.

Mixed with the French ability to dictate match tempo and force penalties, Les Bleus, if they can contain the superior athleticism of the All Blacks, can squeak by with the type of slow death victory that sports fans hate to see in championship games.

New Zealand though, brings a lot of weapons to the table and the French will have their hands full trying to keep the attacking All Blacks out of their territory. Not an easy task.

But maybe Australia has already done some of the work for the French.

After the high energy, high emotion semi final match with the Wallabies, you have to wonder how much the All Blacks have left. That match meant more to both teams then just a trip to the finals.

After beating Australia, can New Zealand pull themselves up again for one final, demanding and high profile match.

By this point in the tournament, it is less about skill and more about desire. Who wants it more?

New Zealand, after beating Australia, may have already gotten what they want.

Prediction: France wins 17 - 15.

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