It all comes down to Saturday night at the Stade de France, as old rivals New Zealand and South Africa prepare to go toe-to-toe in the 2023 World Cup final.
Both teams have won three world titles in their history and this weekend’s clash is set to be another iconic showdown between two of the most successful sides in the international game.
A day earlier Argentina and England meet in the Bronze Medal match, and a preview of that clash can be found here.
New Zealand -1 Handicap @ 10/11
New Zealand cruised their way to the World Cup final thanks to what was a comfortable 44-6 win over Argentina in the semi-finals.
In a massive boost to the All Blacks’ chances this weekend, that game was played 24 hours before South Africa’s brutal semi-final victory over England.
The Boks were on the brink of elimination at 15-6 down, but a late try from RG Snyman and the boot of Handre Pollard saw the Boks storm back to claim a famous 16-15 victory in Saint-Denis.
That performance must have taken a lot out of this Springboks side, who now have to go again and try to best their old rivals with less rest and recovery than the Kiwis.
With so little to choose from between these sides, that difference in the time and competitive nature of the semi-finals might well prove decisive.
Overlooking a 35-7 World Cup warm-up win for the Boks at Twickenham in the build-up to the tournament in France, New Zealand have won their last two competitive meetings with South Africa.
Having beaten Six Nations champions Ireland in the quarter-finals and with their extra rest after the semis, New Zealand can win this World Cup final in the 80 minutes while falling on the right side of the -1 Handicap.
Will Jordan Anytime Tryscorer @ 11/10
A player who has enjoyed an outstanding World Cup so far, New Zealand winger Will Jordan is certainly a player to look out for in the Anytime Tryscorer market.
The Crusaders star already has eight tries to his name ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Stade de France and is set to finish top of the tryscorer standings in the competition.
Scoring 31 tries in 30 appearances for New Zealand, Jordan can continue his remarkable record at Test level and bag another try in this weekend’s showpiece event.
New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has made just the one change to the starting XV who made light work of Los Pumas in the semi-finals.
The change comes in the second-row, where Brodie Retallick comes in for Sam Whitelock, who drops down to the bench.
South Africa have made two changes from the side that edged out England at the Stade de France, and both of them come in the half-backs.
Boks head coach Jacques Nienaber started Manie Libbok in the semis, but the fly-half was given the hook at the half-hour mark.
Pollard came on to help save the day for South Africa and his heroics against England have earned him a starting role for the final ahead of Libbok.
Cobus Reinach has also been dropped, with the experienced Faf de Kerk starting at scum-half alongside Pollard.
The All Blacks have been the most prolific in attack at this tournament, scoring 48 tries compared to the 27 South Africa have managed.
Both teams have conceded 77 points respectively heading into this final.
Going back to the first World Cup in 1987, only 11 tries have been scored across all seven World Cup finals, at an average of 1.57 a match. No player has ever scored more than one try in a World Cup final.
South Africa have reached three World Cup finals previously and did not concede a single try in any of them.
New Zealand’s Whitelock will become the first man to play in three World Cup finals if he comes off the bench on Saturday.
|New Zealand wins
|South Africa wins
The battle for third place at the Rugby World Cup is Friday's warm-up for the final a day later, with England taking on Argentina in Paris.
After a poor Six Nations and a shaky build-up, England were the only team to reach the semi-finals unbeaten and put in their best performance in a one-point defeat to South Africa in that game.
Los Pumas did well to beat Wales, but put up little opposition against New Zealand in their semi-final and were beaten 27-10 by 14-man England in their first match of the tournament.
Buoyed by their battling performance against the Springboks, England look to be going into this match in better spirits and they have rotated their team enough to go strongly again.
England -8 Handicap @ 10/11
Argentina were narrow favourites for the opening Pool D contest between these teams yet, despite going down to 14 men early on after a red card for Tom Curry, the Red Rose dug deep and were comfortable winners by 27-10.
The short price for Argentina was based on England’s summer defeats in their summer warm-ups, notably to Fiji, and their 30-29 loss the previous year at Twickenham to Los Pumas.
That defeat ended a run of 10 straight victories for England in this fixture, and eight of their last nine wins over Los Pumas have been by a double-figure margin.
Argentina offered little in the way of attack in last week’s semi-final defeat to the All Blacks and lacked any kind of spark, while England held them tryless for 79 minutes when they met in the pool stage, and another comfortable Red Rose win looks on the cards.
Henry Arundell to score a try @ 6/4
Winger Henry Arundell has been given just one chance to star at this World Cup, but he seized it with both hands.
The London Irish academy product ran in five tries in the pool match against Chile on his World Cup debut, trumping his achievement on his first appearance in an England shirt when he came off the bench in Australia and scored with his first touch.
His pace and eye for a break make him a huge attacking threat and he is set to go in fresh ahead of a game that may well be open.
Los Pumas have made just three changes from their team for the semi-final.
Tomas Cubelli returns at fly-half, while lock Pedro Rubiolo and centre Jeronimo de la Fuente also come into the starting XV.
Tomas Lavanini, Gonzalo Bertranou and Santiago Chocobares are the players to drop out and they are not among the replacements either.
England have made eight changes to their team and field a mix of youth and experience. Arundell is back on the wing after scoring five tries against Chile, while Marcus Smith starts at full-back.
Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell - with more than a century of caps each - are the starting half-backs, with the former set for his 127th and final appearance for his country.
Courtney Lawes has been omitted from the matchday 23, so his international career has already drawn to a close, which may also prove to be the case for wing Jonny May.
Argentina were 30-29 winners when the teams met at Twickenham a year ago, but that is their only victory in the last 12 meetings.
The two sides have met at three World Cups prior to this tournament, with England winning 24-18 back in 1995 and 13-9 in 2011, while in 2019 the Red Rose romped to a 39-10 success in Chofu - running in six tries.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.