Former England and Italy captains Chris Robshaw and Sergio Parisse have made their predictions for the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and South Africa.
The two old rivals will collide in the tournament’s grand final for the first time since 1995 after the Springboks defeated England 16-15 in the semi-final and the All Blacks thumped Argentina 44-6.
The two nations have each hoisted the William Webb Ellis Cup on three occasions in the past, and Saturday’s final at the Stade de France will decide who becomes the first team to win the World Cup for a fourth time.
Sergio Parisse backs All Blacks
“It’s disappointing that there is no Northern Hemisphere team in the final, but of course, both teams deserve to be there,” Parisse said on Planet Rugby’s Captain’s Call, a Rugby World Cup podcast brought to you by eToro.
“Paris is probably going to be wet, and I think New Zealand will arrive in this final with a lot of energy. They have been incredible throughout their campaign during the World Cup and everything around the team.
“South Africa, from the first game of the World Cup, was the favourite to arrive in the final. The game plan from England [in the semi-final] was great, and they put a lot of pressure on the air; South Africa really struggled with the kicking game of England, and New Zealand are going to see that and prepare for the final to put pressure on the South African team.
“I think New Zealand have all the weapons to win this final; it’s not going to be easy, of course not, because it’s the final; it is going to be a close game.
“New Zealand is going to be arriving a bit fresher, and it’s going to be interesting to see how South Africa are going to manage in this final.
“What are their tactics going to be? Are they still going to bring in a 5-3 on the bench as they did in the last two games, or are they going to try to change and put some other big guys on the bench?
“So it’s going to be interesting, but I think New Zealand, for me personally, is going to win the final.”
The All Blacks have an extra day’s rest between the semi-final and final. They also took several key and experienced players off early in the semi-final victory over Argentina.
Chris Robshaw’s backs Springboks
Former England skipper Robshaw feels that this will factor into the outcome of the final but disagrees with Parisse as he feels that the Springboks will come out on top.
“That [the fatigue] is going to play a huge part,” Robshaw said.
“Look, they took a lot of their older guys off, their better players off after 50 minutes, and the difference between playing a 50-minute game and an 80-minute game, an extra day of rest does add a lot.
“You can see the South African guys look tired; they look beaten up after that French game a little bit, but they’ll get a huge amount of confidence and have a proper week to recover.
“But I’m going to go with South Africa; I think back to that game at Twickenham where I’ve not seen a South African team as prolific with ball in hand.
“I imagine they’ll play Pollard at 10. You would have thought the way he and Faf came on that tactic worked well in the France game, but I think they probably need both those players at the beginning of the game, and I would think they would come in and try and really control that.
“Then they do what they do, they build a score that goes three, six, nine, 12, maybe get a try, but we’re set for classic and again, it’s going to be a flick of a coin; they’re both quality sides.
“One might win one day or another day, and it’s who deals with the pressure, and I think you look at most of their squads, I think New Zealand pretty much have a fully fit squad from the start of the tournament, South Africa have lost one or two, but generally that’s a pretty good squad considering the intensity of games they play.”
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