2011 Rugby World Cup final: Wayne Shelford says New Zealand must win

Rugby World Cup final: New Zealand v France

Venue:
Eden Park, Auckland
Date:
Sunday, 23 October
Kick-off:
0900 BST
Coverage:
Live text on the BBC Sport website; live radio commentary on talkSPORT; live television coverage on ITV1

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Shelford backing New Zealand

Former New Zealand number eight Wayne Shelford says the All Blacks must win Sunday's Rugby World Cup final against France.

Shelford played in the 1987 final when New Zealand beat France - the last time they lifted the Webb Ellis trophy.

He said: "We have to win it and we want to win it because we are a rugby nation. For us not to have won it in all those past years is sad.

"It's nice to know we could take the World Cup again in our own country."

The All Blacks's 29-9 victory 24 years ago was at Eden Park in Auckland - the same venue for Sunday's final.

And Shelford added: "It would be fantastic to win it but we know it's not going to be an easy game.

"The French will probably turn up this time and give us a run for our money but I think we will still go in as favourites."

The All Blacks have reached the final just once since 1987. In 1995 they lost 15-12 to South Africa but Shelford is philosophical about the result.

He said: "Sometimes your stars just aren't aligned and it's not meant to be because, when it happens, it's all about the day.

"The bounce of the ball and the referee's decision can go against you.

"It's all about doing things right and making sure you get the rub of the green as well."

After a year in which the New Zealand city Christchurch suffered an earthquake in February, Shelford hopes success on the pitch could be a boost for the nation.

He said: "A lot of families have lost people and a lot of people have lost homes and it's so sad that it happened.

"But it's amazing how rugby can get people up and get them smiling again. It might only be for a short time but we have got to move on.

"The Kiwis will yahoo for a couple of nights and really enjoy themselves - then it will be back to work a couple of days later."

A win would also be a boost for the team who was named the International Rugby Board (IRB) Team of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2008 and a record fourth time in 2010.

Shelford said: "[If we win] Everyone can say we've got the monkey off our backs and we can move on. All the Press from around the world can say we're not chokers any more."

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