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Rugby World Cup 2023 – The little black book behind every All Black

Everyone remembers their first day at school or a new job, this feeling of fear of either looking out of place or making a mistake. Everyone has days like this. But not everyone becomes an All Black. Over 139 years, just over 1,200 men have worn the jersey of one of rugby’s most iconic and dominant teams.

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They won over 77% of their Test matches, more than any other men’s team. They have won three Rugby World Cups; no men’s team has won more. Their practice and culture have become synonymous with success not only in sports, but in the world at large.

They are outstanding. But when you first join this sacred club, the last thing you want to do is stand out. On my first day, I was excited but scared at the same time, says Richard Kahui, recalling his arrival at the camp in 2008, when he was 23 years old.

“I didn’t want to disappoint – not be late for a meeting or lose the ball in training. The first thing you do is meet the team manager, receive your room key and all new uniforms. It’s as exciting as Christmas.”

The uniform symbolized belonging to the team. But later that evening, two senior players – Conrad Smith and Keven Melamu – were waiting for Kahui in the team room with a black book that would reveal the special meaning of becoming an All Black.

The call-up

Today, players can be called to international duty simply by adding them to a WhatsApp group chat. In 2004, Smith learned more publicly about his choice. New head coach Graham Henry was keen to bring in new talent after New Zealand lost to Australia in the semi-final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

I was alone in the apartment and wasn’t even going to listen to the announcement, but I realized it was time and turned on the radio with a sandwich in my hand, says Smith, who had only played one season of professional rugby at this point.

Casey Laulala, the opposition centre, was named in alphabetical order, and I remember thinking that maybe this wasn’t for me. Then it came to S and my name was called so I put my sandwich down and my phone started working.

Four years later, Kahui didn’t even have a radio. He had to call All Black Stephen Donald, his best friend, who put his phone on speaker and placed it next to the speaker so Kahui could listen to the announcement.

Donald’s name was said before mine so I could hear his family’s screams before I calmed down, he says. Then, as it went even lower, my name came out. My phone started ringing. My mom and dad were crying and I almost cried. I found out about it like everyone else.

The haka

The All-Blacks’ ceremonial war dance before a match is one of rugby’s iconic spectacles. They insist this is not being done to piss off the opposition; rather, it’s for yourself. Some of his most significant performances take place in private, away from cameras and confrontation.

There’s a process when you’re brought into a group and the haka plays a big part in that, especially on tour when there’s a group of new players, Smith says.

On my tour, there were seven or eight of us debuting, maybe more. You talk about yourself and your journey – where you are from and a little about yourself. Everyone welcomes you. During your first hack, you meet experienced players and do it. We’ve got a full team, it’s so special and you’re not just talking about the haka, you’re talking about the jersey, the heritage, the proud history of the All Blacks and now is your chance.

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A Haka and a Welcome: The New Zealand Rugby World Cup team Tradition

The message was don’t be scared by it, you are meant to be here and you are now the keeper of the jersey so leave your mark on it. Kahui’s experience was similar. The squad welcomes everyone into the room and does a big haka, welcoming you to the team, he says. Even talking about it makes you feel funny.

It’s one of those energetic and emotional moments in your life and at the end you shake everyone’s hand. When you leave that room, you are not treated or spoken of differently—you are completely black. Rugby fans can book Rugby World Cup Quarter Final Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

“You can sit at the same table with someone like Richie McCaw. You feel like you have every right to do what everyone else is doing. it was like one of those special days in your life.”

The little black book

Leaving your legacy and marking your time in the famous black jersey is a fundamental message for all newcomers. This goes beyond metaphor. All black people are literally writing their own history. When Smith and Melamu approached Kahui on his first day, Smith – by then a senior player – handed him a black book.

There are a few things that only All Black players get. One of them is a black book that contains all the information you heard about at the meeting, says Kahui. But it also has all these blank pages. You need to keep a diary of your time as an All Black.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

After the meeting, Conrad Smith let me look at his book. There was the date and the teams he played for, what he felt, what it meant. It was truly amazing to get inside his book and his mind. They say it’s your book so take care of it and when you play your first game you give it away and they put a picture of you playing in it and you have it for the rest of your life.

The book was introduced after Graham Henry took charge of the team following the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Smith believes cultural change is necessary and praises Gilbert Inoka for helping bring about that change. Over time, Enoka established himself as the All-Blacks’ head of leadership and mental performance. However, at first his ideas were viewed with suspicion, and he had to pretend to be a massage therapist.

The Little Black Book: A Symbol of the New Zealand Rugby World Cup team

He was the initiator of the introduction of the little black book. According to Smith, opinions about the book varied, but the main idea was that it symbolized the All Blacks. The first few pages were dedicated to the heritage and a little about history and achievements.

The book explains how New Zealand’s many cultures were united by their shared love of the black jersey and the silver fern. Then there were blank pages and the choice was yours, Smith adds. You didn’t have to write in it you could draw pictures and do whatever you wanted in it.

I started writing notes for each game. I think you understand that passing one test is something special, so you need to make sure you want to play 10 or 20. Just wrote things that I really liked about the games. It’s not because they were any less special, but because I developed my own routine.

Smith and Cowie have been rivals for the midfield spot, but the culture the All Blacks have instilled is one of senior players helping future stars. I think you don’t appreciate how much you can help someone and you do it because you’ve been there before, Smith says. I knew how important it was for Tana Umaga to talk to me when I started my All-Black career when I sat quietly and told me that everyone was nervous.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

“It made an impression on me, so I knew when I was in that position, I was going to do it. It was the same for me with Richard, a guy I really respect and appreciate.”

The winning culture and Rugby World Cups

Smith and Kahui both joined the All-Black squad under the shadow. Despite being the world’s leading Test team, since winning the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 they have lost their next five tournaments. A crushing defeat to France in the 2007 quarter-finals was the last straw. Something had to change.

That 2007 team was as good, if not better, than the [Rugby World Cup-winning] teams of 2011 and 2015, said Smith, a veteran of all three tournaments. We just didn’t have the right mentality and didn’t prepare as well for the World Cup as we did in 2011 and 2015.

We realized that at the World Championships there were shortcomings in this, and we had to correct it. Even though our mentality was great and we were able to keep the All Blacks at that level, we still had to adapt it for the Rugby World Cup.

We had to admit that the uniqueness of the tournament could pose new challenges for us. In 2011, Smith and Kahui started the tightest game in New Zealand rugby history; one that challenged even the most prepared team.

Four years after a shock defeat to the French in the last eight, they faced the same opponents again in the final on home soil. A win would end a 24-year wait for the game’s biggest prize.

We worked hard on things like the mental ability to stay in the blue and not in the red, Kahui says. Blue is about calmness and being in the present moment without thinking about the outcome. Red is negative thoughts, where you think, What if? Rugby fans can book Rugby World Cup Final Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

The Unlikely Hero: Stephen Donald’s Journey to Rugby World Cup Glory

Few imagined the possibility of what actually happened. Injuries have ruled out first and second halfbacks Dan Carter and Colin Slade. 34 minutes into the match, All Blacks third-ten player Aaron Cruden also disappeared.

An old friend of Kiya Kahui. Weighing half a stone, Donald was fishing for whitebaits on the Waikato River when Henry called him and asked him to join the team ahead of the semi-final. Now, with the jersey several sizes too small on his back and the huge weight of the nation’s expectations on his shoulders, he was faced with the task of winning the Rugby World Cup.

Donald duly converted the decisive penalty in a nervy 8-7 victory. Cowie says the lessons learned from a series of Rugby World Cup disappointments – when the tournament required an extra level of preparation and fortitude coupled with the All-Black’s storied culture – have paid off.  

A Legacy of Planning and Preparation: The All Blacks’ Road to Rugby World Cup Glory

In training in 2009 and 2010, we did a scenario drill where he was down two linebackers, he says. So, in 2011, when we lost three, it seemed like we were preparing for this. Looking back, I can see how much effort went into the planning and process of winning the Rugby World Cup. This is not a matter of one year. You have four years to get things right. The planning on the part of the staff and management was phenomenal.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

Both Smith and Kahui have since retired. There are new custodians of their famous black jerseys and a new legacy to be written. The next two weeks will show whether they have a record fourth Rugby World Cup and another glorious chapter in All Black history in the pages of their own black books.

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Rugby World Cup quarterfinal predictions

The Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals await us next weekend. The losers go home and the winners go through two glory games. The stakes and standards have just been raised to new levels. So who will win?

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Wales v Argentina

Saturday, 14 October

Wales’ progress comes at a price. No.8 Taulupe Faletau’s loss against Georgia has been compounded by Gareth Anscombe’s injury, which may keep him out of action just yet. They are both key players. But Warren Gatland and his team have a happy habit of acting when necessary. They have a fantastic track record of improving their level in the later stages of competition.

Gatland will remind them of the opportunities ahead of them. They have a very winning game for a place in the World Cup semi-finals. Midfielder Sam Costelow is inexperienced. He was making only his third start when he replaced Anscombe against Georgia. But I think he played smart and scored his goals well.

Argentina looked better against Japan in their last Group D game, but up until this point I thought they lacked cohesion and rhythm. This game, coming a day after Wales’ game against Georgia, won’t help them overall. It was a really tight match, with a lot of running open rugby in the hot Nantes conditions. I think it will be very difficult for them to ask for a transfer to Wales.

Ireland vs New Zealand

New Zealand is a very dangerous beast. They bounced back from their opening day defeat to France by scoring a total of 36 tries in victories over Namibia, Uruguay and Italy and showcasing their loose and smart rugby.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

But in a top Test match against Ireland, who have never put a foot wrong in the tournament, more is needed. You have to be able to back up those moments of genius with relentless physicality and impeccable consistency, and I just don’t think the All Blacks have that equipment.

Scotland are a very good team. They came to Saturday’s match motivated. They discussed the possibility of defeating Ireland. But they couldn’t rely on them. Ireland’s dominance began in the front row with Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Thad Furlong, but their entire forward group was formidable. Captain Peter O’Mahony has been a totem for them as he plays game after game. Harry Ringrose was also commanding in the centre.

And Ireland have a 16th player with fans at the Stade de France. They beat South Africa there two weeks ago, beat Scotland on Saturday and they play New Zealand there at the weekend. Paris became a home away from home with thousands of fans in the stands and streets. The team feeds off the fans, the fans feed off the team, and they have a very personal connection. Ireland have been too good for too long and had too much momentum for the All Blacks.

Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals England vs Fiji

Sunday, 15 October

This is a very close call. Fiji played better than England for most of the group stages. They finished well in the win over Australia, and in the opening weekend they potentially made a mistake in managing Paula Raddrana, missing out on a win against Wales. Portugal’s defeat in the last Group C match was less impressive, although by then I think they were already looking to England for the last eight.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

Fiji reached the quarter-finals thanks to a landmark win over Twickenham less than two months ago. That result, and England’s tight win over Samoa in their own final pool stage game, showed Steve Borthwick’s side struggling with the ball movement and power that typifies the Islanders’ game.

England’s Path to Success in the Rugby World Cup Quarter finals

England need to play to their strengths and break through the set-piece before they spin the ball wider. For that you need George Ford calling the shots from the semi-finals onwards and I don’t think having Owen Farrell out there will help. Of course, they didn’t work well together against Samoa after some promising performances against Argentina and Japan in Farrell’s absence.

England have more experience in the Rugby World Cup play-offs with veterans from Japan’s 2019 campaign in the squad, but let’s not overstate the difference. Rugby fans can book Rugby World Cup Quarter Final Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.

Fiji have Levani Botia, who has played in the last three Champions Cup finals. They have Joshua Tuisova, who played in the Olympic final. Half of their team plays rugby with major European clubs and are accustomed to playing high quality rugby every week. The other half is now experiencing some of the best rugby in the southern hemisphere thanks to Fijian team Drua’s involvement in Super Rugby.

They are tactically astute and disciplined in defense, while maintaining an edge in attack, even if some old inconsistencies remain. I think England’s forwards will almost take them home, but they will have to be a lot more crisp and clinical compared to the Samoa game.

France vs South Africa

Home versus home, I think this is the toughest game of the last eight games. The support of the native country speaks in favor of France. At times we wondered if the circumstances and expectations would prove too much for them, but head coach Fabien Galthie, team manager Rafael Ibanez and defense coach Sean Edwards appear capable of handling the pressure.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

This is a brain trust of coaches who have been on the biggest stages and biggest games and know how to manage the build-up. We saw it on opening night when they beat New Zealand at the Stade de France, and we saw it when they completed the Grand Slam last year against England on the same stage.

We also saw this in Marseille last year when they beat South Africa 30-26 in a great game. France lost Antoine Dupont to a red card that day and still won. Dupont is still recovering from a facial fracture suffered against Namibia and may not be quite ready for the game. Any team will miss the best player in the world, but Maxim Luku, who entered the field at the age of nine, became an excellent backup.

South Africa has the tools to beat France. Their defense is so quick and they rebound the ball so hard that they can protect the scoring line and slow down France’s ball flow. But France have the threats to the entire team and the intelligence and composure to find them and dethrone the defending champions.

Beaumont hails special France atmosphere as spectacular pool phase ends

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont hailed the 2023 Rugby World Cup as a sign of better friendship between France and rugby and promised to give unions more opportunities to close the gap in the competition.

Over the course of 40 matches, 20 teams played in nine stadiums across France, captivating crowds and winning hearts and minds as the country united behind the tournament. On the field, history was made as Chile made their debut, Portugal claimed their first win and Fiji reached their first quarter-final in 16 years to kick off the tournament.

Under the banner of rugby’s greatest celebration of unity, the world is participating in record numbers in stadiums, rugby villages, living rooms, cafes, bars and online. France Rugby World Cup 2023 has captured the imagination and warmed the hearts of this rugby-loving nation said Beaumont.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

“With an average attendance of 47,000 across nine beautiful stadiums, more than a million fans living in rugby villages and an unprecedented social presence of almost one billion fans, this will be a social Rugby World Cup.”

France’s Pool A final match against Italy attracted 13 million viewers on French television channel TF1, peaking at 14.5 million, representing the broadcaster’s second-largest audience of the year, just behind Les Bleus’s opening match against New Zealand.

A Thriving Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals and a Pledge of Inclusion

Notably, the French rugby audience is the country’s largest since they last hosted the tournament in 2007. Meanwhile, Beaumont reiterated his pledge to give trade unions greater confidence and the ability to be more competitive on the world stage, saying the sport was united in a bid to open the door to a new dawn.

At this stage of the competition we say goodbye to 12 teams, said Beaumont. I want to assure everyone that they like Portugal. Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay, Chile and Georgia may have disappeared, but they are certainly not forgotten.

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RWC Tickets | Rugby World Cup Tickets

“We must and will do everything possible to provide greater confidence and the opportunity for regular high-level competition for these teams. They are central to our discussions on a revamped international calendar that will benefit the many rather than the few. This will in turn enable us to come to the 2031 Rugby World Cup in the USA with a truly competitive and unpredictable Rugby World Cup that is great for fans, broadcasters and commercial partners.”

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Rugby World Cup Celebrates Its Hall of Fame Inductees

Bryan Habana’s record-equalling eight tries during South Africa’s 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph in France. And solidified his status as one of the sport’s greatest wingers. His remarkable speed and finishing ability made him a constant threat on the field. His 67 Test tries for South Africa remain a remarkable achievement.

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Dan Carter’s legacy as one of the greatest fly-halves in rugby history is firmly established. With two Rugby World Cup victories and a record as the highest points scorer in test rugby. Carter’s precision kicking, exceptional game management, and composed performances under pressure set him apart.

Juan Martín Hernández’s pivotal role in Argentina’s breakthrough 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign cannot be overstated. As a playmaker, his vision, creativity, and ability to control. The game from fly-half was instrumental in Argentina’s victories over host nation France, earning them a historic bronze medal.

Thierry Dusautoir and George Smith, despite suffering heartbreak in the Rugby World Cup finals in 2003. And 2011 respectively, are revered for their leadership and work rate on the field. Dusautoir’s legendary 38-tackle performance against New Zealand in 2007 showcased his tenacity. And determination, while George Smith’s incredible career saw him excel as an openside flanker for Australia.

The Rugby World Cup Hall of Fame, presented by TUDOR, serves as a tribute to these exceptional individuals. Who not only displayed exceptional skill on the rugby field but also embodied the core values of the sport. With 166 inductees since its inception in 2006, it stands as a testament to the rich history and global reach of rugby.

Rugby’s Hall of Fame Welcomes Legends at RWC 2023 Gala

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont’s statement underscores the significance of the Rugby World Cup 2023. Which coincides with the sport’s bicentenary celebration. It is a poignant reminder of how rugby has evolved and brought people together for two centuries. These legendary players played a central role in that remarkable journey. The gala event promises to be a fitting tribute to their enduring legacies.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 is set to celebrate the induction of rugby legends into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. These players have not only excelled on the field but also embodied. The core values of the sport, serve as exemplary ambassadors.

Among the esteemed inductees is Bryan Habana, who made a significant impact on South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2007 victory. Known for his incredible speed. Habana equaled the record for the most tries in a single World Cup tournament, finishing with eight tries.

Habana’s remarkable career also saw him become South Africa’s all-time leading try scorer. Matching the legendary Jonah Lomu as the men’s Rugby World Cup all-time leading try scorer with 15 tries. His accolades include being named World Rugby Player of the Year, a testament to his exceptional contributions to the sport.

The Rugby World Cup Awards in Paris on October 29 will be a momentous occasion to celebrate these inductees. Who has elevated rugby to new heights, both as athletes and as ambassadors of the sport’s values? John Eales, Chairman of the Hall of Fame panel, emphasized the significance of recognizing those. Who has played a vital role in making rugby a global and cherished sport?

Bryan Habana: Record-Breaker and Rugby Legend

Bryan Habana’s remarkable journey in the Rugby World Cup began in November 2004 when he burst onto the test arena with a try-scoring debut against England at Twickenham. This debut marked the start of an illustrious international career that saw him score an incredible 67 tries in 124 Tests for South Africa, a record surpassed only by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata in world rugby.

Habana’s club rugby career flourished as he joined the Bulls in 2005 after impressing with the Lions. With the Bulls, he achieved significant success, winning Super Rugby titles in 2007 and 2009, complemented by a Currie Cup victory. Later, he continued his Super Rugby World Cup journey with the Stormers, reaching another final. His South African tenure concluded with a second Currie Cup triumph, this time representing Western Province.

A pivotal move in Habana’s career took him to Toulon, the reigning European champions at the time. There, alongside RWC legends like Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau, he played a crucial role in solidifying the club’s dominance. During his stint on the Mediterranean coast, Toulon achieved a historic feat by winning back-to-back European Cup titles in 2014 and 2015, becoming the first and only club to achieve this remarkable feat.

Thierry Dusautoir, another celebrated figure in rugby, earned recognition as the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year in 2011. His exceptional performances during that year’s Rugby World Cup showcased his prowess, with a notable Player of the Match display in the final at Eden Park, where he scored his team’s sole try. Although the final ended in an 8-7 victory for the All Blacks, Dusautoir’s leadership and tackling prowess left an indelible mark on the tournament.

The All Blacks Challenge: Thierry Dusautoir’s Path to Rugby Greatness

These rugby legends will be celebrated at the upcoming World Rugby Awards, an event that highlights their extraordinary contributions to the sport and their indomitable spirit on the global rugby stage. The Rugby World Cup is proud to honor its enduring legacy.

Throughout Thierry Dusautoir’s illustrious international career, the All Blacks served as a formidable benchmark. His journey with the France national team had its share of ups and downs, including a period of doubt after being dropped following his third cap, which coincided with a defeat to New Zealand in November 2006. However, he made a triumphant return to Les Bleus’ back-row just in time for RWC 2007, where he would etch his name in rugby history.

It was during the 2007 tournament that Dusautoir delivered one of the most remarkable individual performances in Rugby World Cup history. In a quarter-final clash against the All Blacks, he made an astonishing 38 tackles, setting an RWC record. His heroic efforts played a pivotal role in France’s unforgettable 20-18 victory over New Zealand in Cardiff.

Dusautoir’s final appearance in the French jersey also came against the All Blacks, this time during Rugby World Cup 2015 in Cardiff. When he concluded his test career, the relentless flanker had participated in three Rugby World Cups, amassed 80 caps (56 as captain), and scored six tries.

Honoring Thierry Dusautoir: A Rugby World Cup Hall of Famer

In a remarkable twist, Dusautoir’s introduction to RWC came relatively late at the age of 16. However, his background in judo likely influenced his tenacious defensive style, which became a hallmark of his play. At the club level, he made his senior debut with Bordeaux and went on to represent US Colomiers, Biarritz, and Toulouse, achieving considerable success with five French titles and one Heineken Cup triumph.

Additionally, at the age of 19, he showcased his talent in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and made two appearances for the Barbarians following his retirement from international rugby. These remarkable achievements and the indomitable spirit of Thierry Dusautoir will be celebrated at the upcoming World Rugby Awards, where the Rugby World Cup will honor his enduring legacy.

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Portugal’s Historic Rugby World Cup Victory: A Thrilling Triumph

Portugal made history with their first-ever victory in the Rugby World Cup, securing a spot in the quarter-finals where they will face England. The final match of the pool stages turned out to be a thrilling spectacle, with Rodrigo Marta’s late try and Samuel Marques’s composed conversion delivering a dramatic win for Portugal.

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Throughout the Rugby World Cup, Portugal’s national team, known as Os Lobos, has captured the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. Their passion and dedication were on full display as the players sang their hearts out in front of their jubilant supporters after the final whistle. Moments like these will be cherished in the memory of this tournament, alongside the expert touch-finder executed by hooker Mike Tadjer under intense pressure during the first half.

Fiji, meanwhile, appeared to be on the verge of clinching a nervous victory for the second consecutive week. However, Marta’s crucial try secured Portugal’s historic win and pushed Fiji into the quarter-finals of RWC by their losing bonus point. This result also extinguished any remaining hopes Australia had of progressing to the last eight.

Rugby World Cup 2023: Fiji’s Challenge and Portugal’s Ambition

As Fiji prepares to face England in Marseille, they can draw confidence from their previous victory at Twickenham, but they understand the need for significant improvements to compete against Steve Borthwick’s side. Portugal’s performance in the Rugby World Cup has been characterized by ambition and fearlessness, earning them admiration from fans and experts alike. Players like Nicolas Martins and Samuel Marques have shone brightly, and clubs may now be vying for their signatures after their impressive performances on the global stage.

Nicolas Martins summed up the historic win, calling it something incredible” and “the best moment of my life. In the Rugby World Cup, Portugal twice held a seven-point lead in the second half, coming close to securing a quarter-final spot for Australia. However, Fiji’s relentless pressure eventually paid off as Mesake Doge crossed for a crucial try. Two penalties by Frank Lomani put Fiji in the driver’s seat, but Rodrigo Marta had a different plan in mind.

Australia’s coach, Eddie Jones, closely watched from their base in Saint-Étienne, possibly feeling like he was in purgatory, as Australia’s fate hung in the balance depending on Portugal’s performance. Portugal’s victory seemed improbable to many, even though Georgia had challenged Fiji in the previous week. Nevertheless, Portugal displayed remarkable tenacity and spirit, earning their place in Rugby World Cup history.

The match was a chaotic affair, played in sweltering conditions that made handling the ball challenging. Despite the errors, it was an entertaining spectacle, adding to the overall drama. The first half ended in a 3-3 deadlock, with Lomani and Marques exchanging penalties. Both teams had missed opportunities to score tries in RWC with Portugal’s Raffaele Storti coming agonizingly close.

Portugal’s RWC Journey: A Test of Resilience

Five minutes into the second half, Storti finally scored for Portugal. A perfectly executed grubber kick from captain José Lima set up the try after a superb highball claim by fly-half Jeronimo Portela. Marques’s conversion from the touchline gave Portugal a seven-point lead in the Rugby World Cup. Fiji found themselves on the back foot but managed to level the score at 10-10 with Levani Botia’s try following a break by Sireli Maqala.

In the Rugby World Cup, Fiji faced mounting pressure as moments later, Levani Botia received a yellow card for a high tackle on Marta. Portugal capitalized on the ensuing penalty, with loosehead prop Francisco Fernandes burrowing over from close range. Despite Botia’s yellow card, Portugal’s resilient defense continued to frustrate Fiji.

However, Fiji’s persistence eventually paid off, with Mesake Doge squeezing over for a try. Frank Lomani leveled the score with a successful conversion and added two more penalties. Portugal responded swiftly, with Marta running a superb inside line to score a crucial try with barely a minute remaining. Marques faced a decisive conversion, which he expertly executed after a lengthy break of RWC, sending Portugal’s fans into a frenzy.

Eddie Jones must have watched this Rugby World Cup match through tense fingers, contemplating whether Portugal could provide a lifeline for Australia. Patrice Lagisquet’s spirited Portugal side has been a revelation in this tournament and came tantalizingly close to delivering a significant upset that could have kept Australia’s World Cup hopes alive.

Portugal’s Epic Rugby World Cup Upset: Australia’s Near-Exit Drama

At one point during this frenetic Rugby World Cup clash, it seemed Portugal might pull off one of the most remarkable upsets, potentially saving Australia’s campaign that had teetered on the brink all week. The Pacific Islanders only needed a single point in their final group match to surpass Australia in Pool C and potentially eliminate them from the competition. In a gripping contest, they achieved just that by securing a narrow losing bonus point in a truly dramatic fashion.

Rodrigo Marta’s last-minute try provided Portugal with a fairy-tale ending to their Rugby World Cup journey and offered outgoing head coach Lagisquet a dream farewell in his final game at the helm. Portugal’s victory was well-deserved, and Samuel Marques’s crucial conversion from Marta’s try sealed their first-ever World Cup win.

Nicolas Martins, Portugal’s flanker, expressed his overwhelming joy, saying, “We worked a lot for that. I don’t know what to say. It’s historic. I’m so happy. It’s the best moment of my life. We’re a team of friends from France and Portugal but we live together. It’s something incredible.” Lagisquet’s team has captivated fans with their dynamic running-rugby and attacking flair throughout this Rugby World Cup.

Fiji’s Last-Minute Triumph: Australia’s Rugby World Cup Heartbreak

It would be a tremendous loss if they did not have more opportunities for Test matches leading up to the 2027 tournament. However, the headline news is that Fiji managed to advance amid the chaos, condemning Eddie Jones and Australia to their worst-ever Rugby World Cup campaign, as their qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

In the Rugby World Cup, Fiji attempted to utilize their power game through the midfield to stifle Portugal in a low-scoring yet frantic first half. During this period, Frank Lomani and Samuel Marques exchanged penalties. Portugal issued a warning when winger Raffaele Storti came close to grounding the ball, but he was ambushed over the line. However, Storti seized his moment immediately after halftime, capitalizing on Jose Lima’s inch-perfect grubber kick to score, sparking the game to life.

Fiji, however, remained within striking distance, securing a spot in the quarter-finals and setting up an enticing rematch with England, who they defeated at Twickenham last August for their first-ever win at the venue. Fiji’s head coach, Simon Raiwalui, acknowledged that the past victory would not have much bearing on this upcoming match, emphasizing the need for efficiency and preparation to compete effectively in this Rugby World Cup encounter.

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