We never really closed the book on 2011 Rugby World Cup, so here goes.
As predicted by many (except Jerry), the host nation of New Zealand won. The All Blacks topped Les Blues by the narrowest of margins. Read the recap here for more details, but there was a good story to emerge in the result.
All Black flyhalf Dan Carter, regarded by more than a few as the best in the world, went down during the tourney with a groin injury. G-g-g-groin in-ju-ry.
His replacement was Colin Slade, who went down with a groin injury as well. His replacement was Aaron Cruden, who was preparing for a Disneyland vacation but jetted to Auckland post-haste. Inspiring stuff, but in the Final, Cruden nearly buried the hearts of the Kiwi faithful with a wounded knee.
Enter Stephen Donald, the fourth choice for flyhalf, one of the most pivotal positions on the pitch. Stephen "Beaver" Donald, as he's known. Not a joke. Donald wasn't en route to visit Mickey, he was whitebaiting elsewhere in New Zealand when he'd been asked to join the rest of his countrymen. "Whitebaiting Beaver" apparently means something entirely different than when I was in undergrad. It's this. So he signed on to ride the bench.
As fate would have it, however, "Beaver" Donald was called upon at the 34-minute mark when Cruden went down. And, in storybook fashion, in a Cup marked for the number of critical missed kicks throughout, it was Donald's kick that notched the 3 points that ultimately decided the match. He's been appropriately heralded by the legions of All Blacks fans, even leading to what this article describes as "Beaver Fever." The best part is you don't need penicillin for that variety.
New Zealand 8, France 7
The French put up a good fight all the way but ultimately surrendered. The All Blacks won for the first time since 1987 (when they also beat the Beret Boys). Good Cup, more coverage than I'd expected, mostly enjoyable action.
Also great to see old roommate, teammate, and cellmate Brian Hightower getting some airtime on NBC and its subsidiaries. Consensus among our friends is that Highcheese acquitted himself very well throughout, and here's hoping it only leads to more of the same.