All black and blue

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

A nation expected. A team delivered. Under the fiercest pressure the All Blacks have shed their despised tag as ‘chokers’ and won through to the final of the Rugby World Cup, beating the tough, tenacious Aussies in a monumental semi-final.

There they will play their old nemesis, France, who somehow scraped a one-point victory against a remarkable 14-man Welsh side that had seemingly lost all chance when their inspirational skipper Sam Warburton was sent off early in the match.

France may have played poorly all tournament – they are the first-ever finalist to have lost two games – but no-one here underrates ‘les Bleus’. In 1999 a French side given no chance whatsoever of beating the All Blacks at Twickenham stunned the favourites with the greatest 40 minutes of rugby ever played. In 2007 they did it again at Cardiff, defying relentless All Blacks pressure to grind out an incredible victory.

Could history, or disaster in the New Zealand view, happen again? Who knows? With this French team more than perhaps any other, anything could happen.

[Savouring the moment of victory]

The final line-up is great news for Olivier Bottrie, President, Travel Retailing Worldwide at Estée Lauder. The passionate French rugby fan is arriving in Auckland this weekend to host key business partners at the final. You can be sure there will be a few side bets going on.

Talking of bets, I was delighted to take NZ$20 off John Sutcliffe (below) after calling the 14-point margin over the Aussies exactly.

Much as I might be tempting fate, I am going to predict a similar result this weekend – the All Blacks by 12. And if they do that, you’ll hear the roar all around the world. Mine.

[Karl and John Sutcliffe with Colm and Breeda McLoughlin meet a friendly kiwi on the match bus]

[Not quite the haka, but these particular All Blacks still managed to stop the Auckland traffic]

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