October 23 down the years
All Blacks end 24 years of hurt
Richie McCaw holds up the World Cup to the All Blacks fans
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The All Blacks hosted France in the 2011 World Cup Final in front of a capacity crowd at Eden Park. With France struggling through the pool stages - losing two matches in the process - not much was expected of Marc Lievremonts charges. However, they produced their performance of the tournament as the All Blacks edged Les Bleus 8-7. The Kiwis started the ball rolling in the first-half in the unlikeliest of circumstances as Tony Woodcock crashed over. However, with Piri Weepu struggling from the tee, France got a foothold on the game and with the All Blacks' fly-halves picking up injuries left right and centre, it fell to Stephen Donald to steady the ship - a role he took on with aplomb as he struck what proved to be the winning penalty. However, France were not done and crashed over the line in the second-half through the inspirational Thierry Dusautoir. Despite there being just one point in it, New Zealand held on to claim rugby's biggest prize.
In the first of the World Cup's quarter-finals, hosts Wales were beaten 24-9 by Australia in a downpour at Cardiff. The 72,500 fans inside the newly-minted Millennium Stadium were silenced by a mixed display from the Wallabies, with scrum-half George Gregan scoring his second try on the final whistle to send Wales packing from their own tournament. Neil Jenkins scored all of Wales' points from the kicking tee as the hosts failed to make any real inroads in to a stubborn Australian defence. Winger Ben Tune scored a try in-between Gregan's efforts for the soon-to-be-crowned World Champions.
The Blue Bulls made it three Currie Cup championships in a row when they ousted Free State 42-33 in a passionate and exciting final at Loftus Versfeld. Centre Ettienne Botha scored two tries in a match that Free State spent chasing unsuccessfully for 70 of the 80 minutes. Heyneke Meyer's Bulls team prevailed with six tries to four and ruthlessly exploited Free State's mistakes. Also, Canterbury became the 2004 NPC champions with a powerful display and a convincing 40-27 victory over Wellington at the Westpac Stadium. Two tries from Justin Marhsall in a dominant display at scrum-half were backed up by efforts from centre Aaron Mauger and skipper Richie McCaw.
Teenager Jeff Wilson joined the small band of New Zealand's duel cricket/rugby representatives. He scored two tries on his All Black debut in a 39-12 tour win against the London and South-East Division at Twickenham. Having played One Day Internationals for New Zealand against Australia in the 1992-93 season, including a match-winning 44 not out from 28 balls in Hamilton, Wilson went on to become the All Blacks' record try-scorer before returning to cricket in 2004.
Fiji finally overcame stubborn Japanese resistance to win their World Cup Pool B clash with Japan 41-13 in Townsville. Needing a victory to set up a potentially vital clash with Scotland in their final group match, Fiji led just 16-13 at half-time before taking advantage of tiring opponents to record 25 unanswered second-half points. Fullback Norman Ligairi headlined the second-half rout with two tries.
Robbie Deans was appointed as assistant coach to new All Blacks chief John Mitchell. Deans was also undergoing his worst season in charge of the Crusaders, but pulled around the Super 12 franchise while working with the All Blacks, with whom he won the 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations.
South Africa ended the first week of the Welsh section of their tour by beating Llanelli 20-11 at Stradey Park.
Wilson Whineray's All Blacks began their European tour with a 19-3 victory against Oxford University at Iffley Road.
England schoolboy international (and future full cap) Charles Kent was prevented by his school, Blundell's, from turning out for Somerset in their County Championship fixture with Gloucestershire.