1. Tony Woodcock (82)
2. Keven Mealamu (91)
3. Owen Franks (30)
4. Brad Thorn (58)
5. Samuel Whitelock (24)
6. Jerome Kaino (47)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (102)
8. Kieran Read (35)
9. Piri Weepu (55)
10. Aaron Cruden (8)
11. Richard Kahui (16)
12. Ma’a Nonu (65)
13. Conrad Smith (54)
14. Cory Jane (30)
15. Israel Dagg (11)
16. Andrew Hore (61)
17. Ben Franks (15)
18. Ali Williams (72)
19. Adam Thomson (24)
20. Andy Ellis (25)
21. Stephen Donald (22)
22. Sonny Bill Williams (13)
Number of Test caps in brackets
The All Blacks will again field a hugely experienced team, with 708 caps in the starting XV, with the side again captained by flanker Richie McCaw in his 103rd Test. The only change on the bench sees Adam Thomson, who has recovered from his high ankle strain, replace Victor Vito.
Graham Henry said: “This is the biggest game of the players’ lives and there is obvious excitement and anticipation at what lies ahead. To be playing in the Final of the Rugby World Cup in front of our home crowd is going to be massive and a very special occasion for the team as well as our fans. The support the team has received from New Zealanders throughout the Tournament has been incredibly humbling and we know the country will be right behind us on Sunday night.”
Meanwhile, a number of milestones will be achieved by various All Blacks this weekend.
McCaw and fellow loose forwards Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read will become the most-capped loose forward trio in All Blacks history, playing their 21st Test together, one more than the trio of McCaw, Rodney So’oialo and Jerry Collins.
Keven Mealamu will play in his 92nd Test joining All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped All Blacks hooker of all time and the joint third most capped All Black behind McCaw and Mils Muliaina.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Aaron Cruden will be playing in his ninth Test for the All Blacks compared, interestingly, with Grant Fox who was playing in just his seventh Test match in the 1987 Rugby World Cup Final, while it was Andrew Mehrtens’ sixth Test match in the 1995 Final.
The All Blacks have played France 50 times since 1906, with 37 wins to the All Blacks, 12 to France and the one draw. The teams have played five times at the Rugby World Cup, with the 37- 17 Pool Play win to the All Blacks in this year’s Tournament the last match. The All Blacks beat France in the 1987 Final and in the 3rd /4th playoff match in 2003 with France scoring significant victories over the All Blacks in the 1999 Semifinal and 2007 Quarterfinal.
The All Blacks: With a history extending more than a century, New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, is the most successful international rugby team of all time and one of the most successful teams in world sport, with a winning Test record of 75 percent. The All Blacks won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and play Australia and South Africa annually in the Investec Tri Nations tournament, which New Zealand has won 10 times in 15 years, including from 2005-2008 and in 2010. The All Blacks have also secured four Grand Slams against the Home Nations, in 1978, 2005, 2008 and 2010. Coach Graham Henry and his assistants Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen have coached the All Blacks since 2004 and have extended the team’s winning record in that time to 86 percent. In 2010, the All Blacks were again named IRB Team of the Year and Henry won his fourth IRB Coach of the Year Award.
All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup notes:
- The All Blacks have scored 293 points so far in Rugby World Cup 2011, with 39 tries, 25 conversions, 14 penalties and two dropped goals.
- Piri Weepu’s seven penalties against Argentina in the Quarterfinal is a record for a single match at Rugby World Cup 2011. Weepu also topped 100 points for the All Blacks with his second penalty kick against Australia in last week’s Semifinal.
- Israel Dagg is second equal on the 2011 tournament’s try-scoring lists with five tries, one behind France’s Vincent Clerc and England’s Chris Ashton. Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Richard Kahui and Jerome Kaino are third equal with four tries. Guildford’s scored all his four tries against Canada, putting him top of the list for tries scored in a single match alongside Fiji’s Verenki Goneva who scored his four tries against Namibia.
- Colin Slade and France’s Morgan Parra hold the records for points scored in a single Test scoring 23 against Japan and Canada respectively. Slade and Australia’s James O’ Connor also hold the record for most successful conversions in a single match with nine against Japan and Russia respectively.