France have beaten New Zealand to finally end their 24-year wait and win the Rugby World Cup, despite a mighty effort from France.
After a nail-biting 80 minute game in which the French challenged the All Blacks at every opportunity, New Zealand’s 8-7 victory was hard fought.
More than 60,000 at Eden Park celebrated as New Zealand regained the Holy Grail of rugby, last claimed 8892 days ago.
It was a night for celebration as all the pain, all the angst, all the national soul searching of the intervening years poured out into a black-clad celebration as the All Blacks swept aside France, as they had in 1987.
It was a night for revenge, for the settling of scores with a side that had bundled New Zealand out of the Cup in 1999, then again in the 2007 quarterfinals, one of the darkest days in the history of the treasured black jersey.
For McCaw, it was the ultimate prize at the end of a tournament in which he dragged his aching body through ruck after ruck, tackle after tackle, to finally lay to rest the misery of the quarterfinal loss in Cardiff four years ago.