The best Rugby World Cup received the final it deserved.
That was the sense leaving Twickenham late on Saturday night long after the last of many fireworks had been unleashed, as Kiwi supporters started to let the achievements of their history-making heroes settle in.
England’s now former fortress was always going to deliver a spectacular show for the final, but it was merely the finishing touch to a seven-week extravaganza that will have left a mark on anybody lucky enough to be involved.
This World Cup has been the best ever because of the invested time and dedication from everybody involved with ER2015 across the country and in Cardiff.
As Bernard Lapasset put it on Sunday, this has been “the most competitive, best-attended, most-watched, most socially-engaged, most commercially-successful Rugby World Cup.”
The national team’s catastrophic failure was meant to be a disaster for the tournament. Not a chance.
Incredible levels of enthusiasm from the tournament’s 6,000 volunteers combined with brilliant fixtures in the knockout stages all meant that we haven’t missed England even a little bit.
Stuart Lancaster and his players don’t need reminding that they have failed to capitalise on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Hosting a World Cup in this country was always going to create a successful legacy – every major sporting event’s favourite buzz word – except kids will be running around on Sunday mornings in England wishing they were an All Black desperate to produce tries such as Nehe Milner-Skudder’s stunner in the final. 4,000 fans turned out just to watch New Zealand train in Darlington.
Everything else, bar some chaotic transport situations, has run as smoothly as possible.
Even the normally grim weather at this time of year more or less kept in tune with the rest of the party, with a glorious blue sky and sunshine providing the perfect backdrop for the fly-over from the Red Arrows.
We’ve been spoiled for highlights, topped off of course by Japan’s jaw-dropping win over South Africa. None of the Tier Two sides made the last eight but they have made this competition special.
Japan of course should have been there. Never has the World Cup schedule felt more unfair than watching a Japanese side fade away against Scotland only four days after the biggest win of their lives.
Regardless of that we now know that 2019 in Japan will be a special event, because the Brave Blossoms have more support back home than ever before, returning as heroes.
Those in charge in four years time have a new standard to match. The worst thing about the 2015 Rugby World Cup is that it’s now over.