Prepare for an epic showdown in the Rugby World Cup as New Zealand squares off against arch-nemesis South Africa this Saturday! The flames of this long-standing rivalry are set to blaze even brighter in this high-stakes clash. Who’s going to come out on top? So, like we do with our NFL picks, Here’s our Rugby World Cup Final prediction.
These titanic teams have no secrets between them, having already clashed twice this year. First, New Zealand asserted their dominance with a 35-20 win in Auckland in July, only to be shocked by South Africa’s thunderous 35-7 victory in a World Cup tune-up last August.
New Zealand’s path to the Finals was unexpected this year, considering they’ve been rebuilding and not quite the indomitable force of the 2010s. Nevertheless, the All Blacks bring an exhilarating style of rugby to the pitch, relying on their backs’ lightning pace and skill. In contrast, South Africa opts for a more conservative game plan anchored in their formidable forward pack.
As the battle looms in Paris, the weather forecast promises a dose of ugliness with rain and gusty winds. Such conditions could favour South Africa’s grind-it-out approach, a far cry from the free-flowing rugby of their Kiwi rivals. It might not be pretty, but the Springboks thrive when they control set pieces, dominate the breakdown, and showcase a rock-solid defense.
This contest is a true coin toss. The outcome could swing in either direction, with the unpredictable weather potentially complicating matters for New Zealand, particularly given their struggles under the high ball and their somewhat suspect long-kicking game. South Africa’s strategy will likely revolve around slowing down the pace, seeking penalties through scrums, methodical lineouts, and occasionally pausing for injuries. The slower the tempo, the less open rugby played, which could play into South Africa’s hands.
Prediction: South Africa