The 2023 Rugby World Cup is set to end this Sunday with a classic battle between rivals New Zealand and South Africa. Both teams will be attempting to become the first nation to win the Rugby World Cup for a fourth time. The last time the two teams met in the Finals was 1995 where South Africa had the edge winning, 15-12.
South Africa’s Road to Finals
The defending champion South Africans started their world cup with a 18-3 victory against Scotland. They then faced a Romanian team which they beat easily by a score of 76-0. In their only loss in the Pool stage, South Africa were unable to get their offense going against a strong Irish team. They ended up losing to Ireland by the score of 8-13.
In the last Pool game South Africa beat Tonga 49-18 to secure their quarter-final place against tournament hosts France.
In one of the most exciting games of the tournament, South Africa were able to just get past France to book their place in the semi-finals. Cheslin Kolbe blocked a penalty which seemed to be the difference in the 29-28 game.
South Africa got to the Finals beating England on Saturday after trailing for a majority of the match. Replacement flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked a last minute penalty for South Africa giving them the 16-15 lead which ended up being the final score.
South Africa Rugby World Cup Results
South Africa 18-3 Scotland | Pool B
South Africa 76-0 Romania | Pool B
South Africa 8-13 Ireland | Pool B
South Africa 49-18 Tonga | Pool B
France 28-29 South Africa | Quarter-Final
England 15-16 South Africa | Semi-Final
New Zealand’s Road to Finals
New Zealand started the tournament off with a loss to tournament hosts France 27-13. They were able to turn it around for the rest of the Pool stage however, winning their final three games.
First up was Namibia who they were able to beat by a heavy margin of 71-3. They then went on to beat Italy 96-17 and Uruguay 73-0. That set up a quarter-final matchup with Ireland.
In what was expected to be a close contest, the New Zealand team was able to beat Ireland despite being down to 14 men for 20 minutes of the game. The final score of the match was 28-24.
Argentina proved to be no match for the New Zealand rugby team as they were beaten 6-44 in the most one-sided semi-finals in decades. Jonah Lomu scored four tries to lead his team to a rather easy victory.
New Zealand Rugby World Cup Results
France 27-13 New Zealand | Pool A
New Zealand 71-3 Namibia | Pool A
New Zealand 96-17 Italy | Pool A
New Zealand 73-0 Uruguay | Pool A
Ireland 24-28 New Zealand | Quarter-Final
Argentina 6-44 New Zealand | Semi-Final
Rugby World Cup Finals Predictions
The Finals is expected to be a close one with both teams looking to be peaking at the right time. South Africa and New Zealand have played each other 105 times in total, with New Zealand leading the series 62 to 39, with 4 matches drawn. In their last five games however South Africa has got the better of New Zealand, winning 3 of the matches.
Most oddsmakers have New Zealand as slight favourite but not by much. This Finals matchup is too close to call and will likely come down to which team plays better under pressure.
Some key players to watch are Will Jordan from New Zealand and Cheslin Kolbe from South Africa. Jordan is the leading try scorer in the tournament thus far with 8 scores for New Zealand. Kolbe was huge in South Africa’s win over France but had a quiet Semi-finals against England. He’s known for coming good in pressure moments when his team needs him the most.
When is the New Zealand vs South Africa Finals?
The Rugby World Cup 2023 Finals is scheduled for 8.00 pm GMT, Saturday, October 28th. The match will be played at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France.