For weeks World Cup fever has struck the nation, with flags sailing and parties running long into the night, dulled only slightly by England’s disappointing group defeats. Now, after the explosive final, New Zealand has finally been crowned victorious and the country can return to normality. The post-world cup slump is now the ideal time to reflect on some of the highlights of this Rugby World Cup.
Player of the Tournament
Who would you consider player of the tournament? Many will agree that it was fly-half Dan Carter who stole the show, astounding many with his superb performances in both the knockout stages and against Australia in the final. It’s no surprise that the International Rugby Board named him player of the year, and man of the match for the cup final. Carter’s drop goal against the Wallabies was an overall highlight of the match, and also the whole tournament. The only disappointment regarding Dan Carter is his upcoming retirement.
While Dan Carter might have been player of the tournament, his teammate Sonny Bill Williams won the hearts of the nation by being the tournament nice guy. Not only did he comfort opposition players after their defeats – particularly South African Jesse Kriel after the close semi final – but he also gave his World Cup winners medal to a 14-year-old fan. Over-excited Charlie Line ran onto the pitch during the team’s lap of honour only to be tackled to the floor by a security guard. Not wanting this unpleasant incident to be the teenager’s lasting memory of the game, Williams generously handed over his medal.
Find out more about this heart-warming story from The Guardian
Most Surprising Match
Perhaps the most surprising match of the World Cup was the unexpected victory for Japan against South Africa in the opening weekend. It was a spectacular match, not only in its unpredictability, but also in its atmosphere. Anyone who bet on Japan’s success was in for extra celebrations when the 1000/1 bets paid off. No one expected Japan to win, even the Japanese themselves seemed surprised by the 34-32 victory.
While England’s World Cup may have ended prematurely for the home team, the fans didn’t let it affect the atmosphere of the tournament. Without their terrific support of every game, the success of the Rugby World Cup would not have been possible. World Rugby chairman, Bernard Lapasset is quoted as saying, ‘England 2015 has been the most competitive, best-attended, most-watched, most socially-engaged, most commercially-successful Rugby World Cup … it has been about the amazing atmosphere in full and vibrant stadia … the unforgettable moments played out by the world’s best players … the very best of our sport has been on display’ . It’s unquestionable that the England 2015 Rugby World Cup was an outstanding triumph for the sporting world, let’s hope Japan 2019 will be the same.