The overthrow of forces ultimately did not take place. Announced as favorites for the world title, France and Ireland stumbled in the quarter-finals, in the first elimination match. And the two teams who put an end to their dreams of a first global title - South Africa and New Zealand - did not tremble to reach the final. Cadors from the South accustomed to major events, masters of their nerves and their rugby. If the blow fell violently in France after the elimination of Fabien Galthié's Blues, this explosive final, a real star war, promises to ignite the Stade de France one last time this Saturday evening for this 48th match closing seven long weeks of competition.
A classic of world rugby, an apotheosis between two juggernauts: the two most successful teams - three crowns each - in search of a fourth crown. Boks captain, the iconic Siya Kolisi, has stars in his eyes: “ It’s the pinnacle. I think this is going to be the biggest match of my life. I think it's impossible to dream of anything better. It only happens once in a lifetime to have two teams like that. » If the two nations have already crossed paths five times in the World Cup, this will only be the second time in the final, after the first coronation of the South Africans, at home, in 1995, in front of a newly elected Nelson Mandela president and against of Blacks… diminished after food poisoning (15-12 A.P.).
Almost three decades later, the weight of history remains present. Two well-marked rugby cultures face each other. After two seasons at the bottom of the wave, with painful setbacks at home against Ireland and Argentina, the New Zealanders were able to regain their legendary efficiency and their total rugby. Except that their best enemies stand before them, those who most often stand up to them. A beastly force symbolized by this substitutes' bench - with seven forwards for a single back - which has no equivalent.
Even if they went through a mouse hole in the quarters against the Blues (29-28) then in the semi-final against England (16-15), the Boks never doubt. It's in their DNA. Frontal play up front, deliciously brutal, a team almost entirely renewed around the 50th minute, but also killer spikes with their electric rear triangle. The last time the “men in black” crossed paths with the South Africans, at the end of August, in a warm-up match at Twickenham, they suffered a humiliation: the heaviest defeat in their history (7-35).
Since then, Kiwis and Boks have gone from strength to strength, building on their traditional strengths. New Zealand will try to impose rhythm and play, while South Africa will schedule a painful 80-minute spin. The heavy rains forecast for Saint-Denis this Saturday evening could play into the hands of the outgoing world champions, which will be more restrictive. But the All Blacks are ready, according to their fly-half Richie Mo'unga: “This week, we had to leave nothing to chance. It's about preparing yourself mentally as well as physically. Where the mind goes, the body follows. " To give everything. Body and soul.