Japan players celebrate their momentous victory over South Africa in the pool section – the Brave Blossoms missed out on a place in the quarter-finals but won the hearts of the rugby world. Photograph: Getty Images 2:16

Gerry Thornley Match of the tournament? Spoilt for choice. Japan provided the best finish, Australia v Argentina was the most breathless, but t(...)

So close: Australia’s head coach Michael Cheika  walks past the the Webb Ellis Cup after Saturday’s final. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Australia come out of this World Cup a stronger force than they went in. New Zealand are automatically weakened by the loss of Richie McCaw, Dan Carte(...)

Dan Carter (centre) has been named the World Rugby player of the year for 2015. New Zealand won the team award. Photograph:  Glyn Kirk/AFP

New Zealand outhalf Dan Carter has followed up his man-of-the-match performance in Saturday’s World Cup final by being crowned World Rugby player of t(...)

  New Zealand duo Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw chat during the Rugby World Cup final against Australia at Twickenham. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

In the end it was all about McCaw and Carter. Never again will we see their likes. Certainly not at the same time. Before Carter grabbed hold of this (...)

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter hold aloft the Webb Ellis Cup after New Zealand’s win over Australia in the World Cup Final at Twickenham. Photograph:      Stu Forster/Getty Images

New Zealand 34 Australia 17 Simply the best, and perhaps now the best of all time. In any event, it’s hard to argue a case for a better team in(...)

All Blacks prepare to perform the Haka before last week’s semi-final victory over South Africa at Twickenham. Photograph: Getty Images. 1:43

The top-two sides in the world. The two most complete sides in the tournament. The world’s best referee. The forecast is set fair, for Twickenham, (...)

New Zealand’s outhalf Dan Carter prepares to kick the ball during a semi-final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup against South Africa. Photograph: Getty Images

Following an action-packed year for international rugby, which will culminate with Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final, the shortlist for the Player of t(...)

Argentina’s Guido Petti Pagadizábal tries to hold up   Australia’s   flankers David Pocock (left) and Michael Hooper  in last week’s Rugby World Cup  semi-final  at Twickenham. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP 1:46

Historically, when a man touched your ball at the base of a ruck he was met with outright violence. This was accepted by the errant openside. Evidence(...)

Centre Matt Giteau is a popular member of the Australia squad. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire 1:46

As the tournament progressed The Giteau Rule made England’s four-year plan to be successful at their own tournament look badly flawed. If Australia ma(...)

Dan Carter is the complete player. His tactical kicking, his passing, his defending were all on the money against South Africa at Twickenham. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images 1:43

On the evidence of the past fortnight New Zealand would beat Australia by 20 points if Saturday’s game was anything other than a World Cup final. Ever(...)