RWC #29: All Blacks beat France to conquer the world in 1987
New Zealand become the first team to lift the Webb Ellis cup after beating the French 29-9
Captain David Kirk kisses the Webb Ellis Cup after the All Blacks’ 29-9 World Cup final win over France in 1987. Photograph: Getty
The Rugby World Cup is a devilishly difficult tournament to win. To do so requires countless permutations to work in your favour and as well as talent it takes a significant amount of luck.
Therefore it figures that the best team doesn’t always win it. But occasionally there comes along a team so dominant and head and shoulders above the rest the thought of them not lifting the Webb Ellis Cup is inconceivable.
New Zealand in 1987 were one of those teams. In fact, they were less a team and more a force of nature.
On their own turf the All Blacks dominated the inaugural World Cup from start to finish. Their pack, marshalled by grizzly overlord Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford, was peerless, and the backline, guided by the metronomic kicking of Grant Fox, had helped rack up a total of 269 points on the road to the final.
Standing between New Zealand and the World Cup were France, who had squeezed past Australia in the semi-finals in thrilling but ultimately energy-sapping fashion.
It was then with an air of inevitability New Zealand took a firm grip of the game at Eden Park which never really looked like loosening.
Kirk then turned provider, leaving the French defence for dead and feeding John Kirwan to wrap the game up.
Despite a Pierre Berbizier score, only the fourth New Zealand conceded all tournament, there was no way back for France.
Kirk lifted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft. The All Blacks were world champions, and surely, they wouldn’t have to wait long to lift the cup again.