After six weeks of thrilling action, we’re down to the last two nations standing in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as New Zealand and South Africa get set to do battle in Saturday’s final.
No strangers to one another, and with history on the line, who will come out on top in the Stade de France?
All Blacks are on the up
After falling to defeat against France in the tournament’s opening match, New Zealand have improved as the competition has progressed.
Comfortable victories over Namibia, Uruguay, and Italy saw them qualify for the quarter-finals as runners-up in Pool A.
Awaiting them in the last eight was Ireland, the number one ranked team in the world and a side with an excellent record over the All Blacks recently.
However, in a thrilling encounter, the All Blacks edged out Ireland 28-24 to seal a place in the semi-finals and a clash against Rugby Championship rivals Argentina.
In a one-sided contest in Paris, New Zealand cruised to a comfortable 44-6 victory over the Pumas to seal their place in Saturday’s final.
The reigning World Cup holders, South Africa, have had to do it the hard way to reach the final, facing Scotland, Ireland, France, and England en route.
A victory over Scotland and a loss to Ireland in Pool B saw the Springboks qualify for the last eight and a quarter-final showdown with host nation France.
In one of the most exciting Rugby World Cup matches of all time, South Africa edged out Les Bleus 29-28 in a thrilling encounter.
Next up was a semi-final clash with England, a side that had seemingly benefitted from an easy run to the last four and whom South Africa were expected to beat comfortably.
However, England put in their best performance of the tournament to push the Springboks all the way – South Africa relied on a Handre Pollard penalty kick with two minutes to win 16-15.
Both countries have lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy on three occasions, so history will be made on Saturday evening, no matter the outcome.
The bookmakers are struggling to split the sides – New Zealand have improved throughout the tournament, but have they truly been tested?
In comparison, South Africa heads into the final after two bruising matches in the knockout stages.
As slight outsiders in the betting and as defending champions, a chance is taken on the Springboks to defend their title and become the first side ever to win the Rugby World Cup on four occasions.