MARK KEOHANE anticipates an epic World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand on Saturday, but predicts a record-breaking win for the Springboks in Paris.
Writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane argues that predicted rain on the night at the Stade de France will favour the Boks, the defending champions, and their formidable forward pack.
Both teams are joint record holders of the most World Cup titles, with three each, but Keohane notes that SA has never lost a final, while the All Blacks’ sole defeat in a decider came 28 years ago against the Boks in the Republic.
He highlights the rich history between the two teams in World Cups, from their iconic clash in the 1995 final to more recent encounters.
“The Bok versus All Blacks rivalry is the grandest and greatest in world rugby and when it comes to World Cups it has gone full cycle,” Keohane writes.
“Never has a World Cup showdown been as eagerly anticipated, given how long it has been in between drinks. Whichever team wins, will create World Cup history.”
Recent clashes between the traditional rivals reflect the closeness of their matches, with the South Africans winning four out of 10 Tests against the All Blacks.
Despite the Kiwis’ recent improvement, particularly their forwards, Keohane suggests that the Boks’ 7-1 bench, combined with Handre Pollard’s goal-kicking, could be key to retaining their crown.
However, he acknowledges that predicting the winner is subjective and often influenced by emotional bias based on whether you are South African or Kiwi.
“Given the love for rugby in both countries, how appropriate that they get to decide the title in the city of love,” Keohane writes.
“Boks by one, says the South African in me.”
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