RWC Gold: New Zealand's date with destiny
When John Kirwan received the ball from Grant Fox and ran with it in the first match of RWC 1987, pre-tournament scepticism over the validity of the inaugural Rugby World Cup as a spectacle were swatted aside as easily as Italy’s attempts at tackling the All Blacks’ powerful right wing.
Kirwan’s wonderful solo score, from fully 75 metres out, fired the imagination of the public and the sporting world at large – and to this day remains one of the best tries in Rugby World Cup history.
An otherwise routine 70-6 victory for the mighty All Blacks over the so-called minnows of Italy had been made memorable for years to come by one moment of magic.
“One of the best things about that try was that it really kicked off the World Cup and people said, wow this is great; this is going to be a great tournament,” Kirwan told Total Rugby.
RWC 1987 had given the All Blacks a chance to reconnect with their public and put the rebel Cavaliers tour to South Africa the year before firmly behind them. Touring their own country, a novelty in itself, helped to heal some old wounds, while, on the pitch, the victory over Italy gave the All Blacks the momentum they needed to eventually go on and fulfill their ‘destiny’.
“I think I knew in the first match against Italy that this was a team that just had the most talent of any All Blacks team I’d played in,” said Kirk, who had been given the captain's armband in the absence of injured hooker Andy Dalton.
Having topped their pool, racking up 190 points and 30 tries in the process, New Zealand made short work of Scotland and Wales in the knockout stages to set up a final date with France.
“We really knew that this was it,” Kirk continued. “We probably had one opportunity in our playing career to be champions and we either took it or we didn’t. So there was a sense of destiny...will you grasp your destiny?”
Grasp it they did, Kirk joining Michael Jones and Kirwan on the scoresheet in a 29-9 victory over Les Bleus that ensured the ’87 All Blacks wrote themselves into rugby immortality.
“The moment that I went over that line, it was a wonderful feeling. I remember banging my fist on the ground thinking this is unbelievable, we’re the world champions," Kirk said.
Also on Total Rugby this week, we feature the ‘Wonder Women’ of WRWC 2014, Handre Pollard talks about his rise from schoolboy rugby to being a Springbok, Argentina’s new era begins in earnest in The Rugby Championship, plus we get an insight into the work of the Bhubesi Pride who are helping to develop rugby throughout Africa. All available to watch HERE>>
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