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Rugby World Cup …. to Japan ….

I often begin my articles with a quotation. In vain, I looked for one of Williams Webb Ellis.

He was probably more interested in playing rugby than speaking ….

 

 Lucie LLONG

(Sport and ….. rugby Artist )

World cup 2015 – The last game of rugby Legend Richie McCaw

October 31, 2015 – Arms towards the sky and wearing the glittering Webb Ellis Cup, Richie McCaw has just end his huge rugby career. The most beautiful reward for a true rugby legend.

If the man was as hated as he was adored, his charisma, his records, his longevity at the rugby highest level make him the greatest player of all time. I must be said that some McCaw’s records are likely to safe for a while. His committed always close to the limit has made him a regular target for medias and his opponents. Richie MacCaw was hermetic to pressure and provocation. But how not to salute his intelligence, his leadership, his extraordinary ability to move forward and reassure his team.

And even if New Zealand has thousand of hight level rugby player, choosing between them is surely a headache for coaches. The number 7 was certainly the easiest and the first name written on match sheet.

Richie McCaw’s Credits and records

  • 148 caps
  • 110 test-matches as captain
  • 27 tries (World record for a forward)
  • Wins rate : 88,51% (only Australia, South Africa, England and France beat All blacks with him playing)
  • Twice world champion : 2011 and 2015
  • 10 times tri-nations and rugby championship winner
  • 3 times awarded world player of the year
  • Rugby All of fame member

Rugby world cup 2011 – All Blacks doubted but won

France, largely defeated in a pool match, meets New Zealand, favorite for the final win. History will remember the epic journey of French squad to reach final. With two defeats in pool and  without a boost of fate, France would not have seen the quarter-finals. Without Welsh captain Warburton expulsion, she might not have crossed the semis-finals but they are there. Bookmakers don’t give much for a New Zealand win so All blacks dominate and seem unbeatable. The haka rumbles in Eden Park boosted by thousands of kiwis promising hell to the XV of France.

Welded, French players in white challenge their opponents. Around French captain Dusautoir, they form a V, the V of victory for this team of revanchists, decried and criticized but well present and ready to write history. Without fear, they face Stadium rumbling and menacing haka, they advance, united and unflappable towards All Blacks. The tone is set.

The match is rough, even violent but the French is ready pushing the All Blacks to the edge. Surprise and doubt can be read on Blacks faces usually so serene . I had never seen kiwis so destabilized. At the end of the suspense, New Zealand will win but the XV of France will come out with honors and many regrets.

The best team of this World Cup won, for sure. France certainly should never be in final but on this day, it was the best team on the field. The French could have even won this match which will remain the closest world cup final in rugby history. Final score 8 – 7 for All Blacks.

Rugby world cup 2007 – Argentina become a major country

In a country where football is religion, rugby has long struggled to spread its values. Yet in recent years, the pumas play and play well. They followed up the prestigious victories by beating the Welsh, the XV of France and the Springboks. Without a shot of Sir Jonny Wilkinson, they would also have beaten the British and Irish lions in 2005.

The Pumas approach this World Cup with confidence, led by a talented generation of players playing in the most prestigious French and English teams. 1st in the pool with a thundering victory over Frenchies in Paris, winner of Scotland in the quarter-finals, only the springboks, future world champions will contain their onslaught and beat them. Argentina and its pumas have left their footprint and will never again be considered as a minor rugby nation.

Rugby world cup 2003 – Live from Sydney …

This World Cup was a very special moment for my life because I was living in Australia at that time. What a pleasure to experience this competition from the inside and to meet in the streets of Sydney, players from all over the world. Ma’a Nonu, a young and unknown player in 2003, wandering near Sydney Opera House, the French bathing in Bondi Beach, the Canadians in a George Street pub. Sydney became for a few weeks the heart of the rugby world and I was there.

Darling Harbor is teeming with life, pubs were full and waiting for the clash between the Wallabies, defending champion, and the All Blacks, the usual favorites. Quite an amazing picture to see Kiwis and Aussies drinking pints of Foster’s together. The beer flows and the nachos crack everywhere.

A week later, Martin’s band will be crowned world champion. The Aussies, instinctive and playful, take a lesson in realism facing efficiency and English Pragmatism. More than any other player, Jonny Wilkinson embodies this victory. There is his winning drop but also his patience, his rigor to write the most beautiful line of English rugby. The World Cup,for the first …. and so far … the last time, came and enjoy fresh European air.

Rugby world cup 1999 – The best match ever…. without patriotism

I sometimes feel like I’m repeating myself but as always the All Blacks are favorites with their five stars casting. Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, Josh Kronfeld and Tana Umaga are all on the field. The Ibanez band suffers and seems unable to stop Blacks and the powerful Lomu, twice scorer. I had the pleasure of meeting him and chatting with him in 2010 in Paris. He signed autographs with Carlos Spencer at the Adidas store in Paris. Anyway,let’s go back to this famous match, 17 – 10 at half-time then 24 – 10 to the 45th minutes. The All Blacks hold the score and nothing seems to worry them.

Clearly froggies were not resigned to serving as a sparring partner to the All Blacks. The forwards challenged Blacks, fixing the dreadful blacks flankers. Space begun to open up for the French light cavalry. Facing with Lamaison’s genius and Dominici and Bernat-Salles’s velocity, the solid All Blacks finally cracked. Once and then twice, French reduced the gap, advanced and after minutes of suspense, won the game. The score of 43 – 31 is far from anecdotal, the French caught up 14 points and scored 33 points in 35 minutes.

Never in their history have the All Blacks conceded so many points in such a short time, one of the greatest achievements of French rugby. French flair incarnation … and one of the most beautiful matches if not the most beautiful I’ve ever watched.

art sport rugby world cup : rugby painting - springboks player from South Africa

Rugby world cup 1995 – The rebirth of the rainbow nation

Politics took a step within sport during Springbok’s first World Cup appearance. If apartheid is over, racial problems persist in a country with a very heavy colonial past. Nelson Mandela, the newly elected black president with the overwhelming support of the black community, wants to unite the country around an idea of harmony and mutual respect. The local rugby team, the mostly “white” Springboks, is one of strongest symbols of apartheid, What a challenge for Mandela!

With the support of Springboks captain François Pienaar, Nelson Mandela will build through sport, the beginnings of the rainbow nation, multicultural and rich of its diversity. For this, the collective must win and, match after match, conquer the hearts of the millions of South Africans wounded by racial clashes: the issue is unity. The chosen world cup hymn “World in union” symbolize the humanist and altruistic vision of Nelson Mandela with its words and images. A real musical pleasure.

The springboks, south African heroes

Chester William was, the only nonwhite player of Springboks team in 1995, a symbol of friendship and reconciliation between all South Africans. The truth is certainly less shining. Nothing seemed able to stop the Springboks’ formidable victorious epic. In 6 weeks, Springboks status changed from a pro-apartheid and hated team, to the unity symbol of an entire nation.

No one knows if the semi-final against France was bought. If the All Blacks were poisoned. If the springboks were doped. 1995 rugby world cup was one of the best Mandela’s political achievement and if history will remember Springbok’s win and the price paid. this victorious generation of player paid a heavy toll for the rainbow nation birth. Many of this springbok legendary players have gone, hit and beaten this time by rare diseases. It cannot be a coincidence and an inspiration for awarded film maker, Clint Eastwood.

Rugby world cup 1991 – Ode to audacity and creativity

How can we not mention Australians determination and confidence to go through with it, at the risk of losing everything, when facing the Irish fighting spirit. David Campese splashed this World Cup with his talent and class, he was everywhere, scorer and passer, a true artist. In the quarter-finals, the Irish thought they would win after a lucky try few seconds before full time and a last scrum for Aussies. The Australians launched their back line and finally scored. Audacity sometimes pays off – quick exit, pass, interval taken and try. Nothing to say… just amazing

The semi-final is a one-sided match, the Blacks were asphyxiated. Campese ran across blacks defense and scored. He was involved in the Wallabies’ second try, with a blind pass he sent Horan behind the line. A cruel reality for the defending champion.

Australian rugby artists beat England in final. English, breathless, lost in Twickenham stadium after a trench war and a very close match. No great show but a final has to be won not played and only victory is beautiful. Even artists sometimes need to rest.

Rugby world cup 1987 – The first in secret

New Zealand welcomes the rugby best for this first in the wet and fresh southern autumn. Far from the current media coverage of world cup rugby, this competition laid foundations for the concept.

While few TV channel covered the event and shared the best moments at Stadium 2 on Sunday, rugby fans followed their favorite team in the daily press.

Blanco’s ghost try against Scotland, which no one has seen, remains an enigma.

The one from the end of the world in the semi-final against Australia is a true 80m masterpiece concluding an epic match .

Unsurprisingly, the blacks won against tired France in a one-sided match. The Battle of Sydney in the semi-finals had been tough and brave French soldiers, victorious but exhausted, had left far too much energy to defeat the All Blacks at home.

My artistic creations on rugby can be discovered in the gallery by clicking on the link: rugby gallery

Written by Sébastien Deloule

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