GBE2 Blog on: Ownership: The New Zealand All Blacks field of dreams - Rugby World Cup Champions 2011

In 1987 New Zealand organised and hosted the inaugural Rugby World Cup in that country. Sixteen teams from throughout the rugby union world participated in pool games around the country. New Zealand played and beat France 29-9 in the grand final. Wales and Australia played-off for third and fourth place.

However, despite consistently being the first-ranked team in world rugby, New Zealand failed to win another Rugby World Cup for 24 years. They went very close in 1995, drawing 12-12 in ordinary time, but losing the play-off 15-12 to the hosts South Africa.

But things have turned full circle, and New Zealand has just hosted its second Rugby World Cup tournament, winning it in the process.

So in its own field of dreams, New Zealand has claimed ownership of the Rugby World Cup and the world championship of rugby union.

In this the second tournament it has hosted in twenty four years, the cup has grown to twenty teams, including the US Eagles, Canada and Argentina from the Americas. Teams from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Russia, Georgia, Romania,South Africa, Namibia, Japan,Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Australia and hosts, New Zealand participated.

Rugby has in the interim period turned professional, like its 13 man counterpart, Rugby League. The United States is actually the reigning Olympic Champions from the 1920's. New Zealand and other major rugby playing countries didn't participate in Olympic tournaments.

While the United States and Canada are used to franchise club competitions and seldom compete in National events outside of the Olympics and world championships, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries regularly compete across the board in international team events such as rugby union, rugby league, soccer, netball and other sporting codes.

And so it was again during the last seven weeks of pool play and knockout play-offs. From the spectacular opening ceremony,four weeks of pool play, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, and the grand final held last Sunday evening New Zealand time.

The emotionalism, the angst and the sheer nationalism came to the fore, after 24 years of failing to bring home the bacon as we say in New Zealand. The All Blacks played their tournament before a stadium of nearly four and a half million - the population of the country. And this time they succeeded, became Rugby World Cup Champions - the champions of the world - and ownership of the game of rugby union for the next four years. Their field of dreams and retention of the Webb Ellis Cup, the ultimate trophy in this worldwide sport.

The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics, and the Soccer World Cup. And a nation sighed in sheer relief! The most extraordinary result has seen New Zealand play-off against France for first and second places as in 1987, and Australia and Wales play off for third and fourth places respectively. Just the order was changed for the latter this time.