Thursday, December 29, 2011

12BET Rugby News Update 12/29

New Zealand dominate 2011 after 24 years of pain

WELLINGTON: After 24 years of stumbles, disappointments and plain old chokes, New Zealand finally lived up to their billing as world rugby's premier side in 2011.

The All Blacks stood up to the pressure of playing on home soil to win the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1987.

With star fly-half Dan Carter injured, they didn't do it in the style that neutrals would have hoped for but few in the rugby-mad country cared. All that counted was seeing captain Richie McCaw get his hands on the Webb Ellis trophy.

While New Zealand's 8-7 final win over France cemented its place at the top of rugby's world order, the rest of the tournament suggested that the game's minnows had narrowed the gap on the established powers.

Romania, Georgia and Tonga all competed more strongly than expected in a tournament that had become renowned for exposing the shortcomings of less experienced teams.

Tonga gave the All Blacks a hard time in the opening match, and beat France in pool play. When Georgia played Romania in Palmerston North, city officials changed the names of the town's main streets to honor the teams.

The French bickered and fought their way to within a single score of what would have been the country's first World Cup win, while Australia impressed fitfully before losing to fierce rival New Zealand in the semifinals.

Australia did win the final edition of the Tri-Nations before Argentina is admitted next year and looks set for a bright future with the likes of James O'Connor, Digby Ioane and Quade Cooper. 


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