After six weeks featuring 47 other fixtures, the Rugby World Cup reaches its climax when New Zealand and France meet in the final at Eden Park here on Sunday.
Fans in rugby-obsessed New Zealand are desperate for their beloved All Blacks to end a 24-year wait for a second World Cup crown since they beat France in the inaugural final, also at Eden Park, in 1987.
But France were also the last visiting team to win at Eden Park, back in 1994 when they scored the celebrated 'try from the end of the world'. The 'friendless' French have been accused of being the worst side ever to reach a World Cup final, of betraying their own rugby culture and being inherently prone to acts of foul play.
It seems almost cruel that an otherwise routinely successful side such as the All Blacks, for much of their history the benchmark for the global game, should be branded a 'failure' as a result of repeated World Cup disappointments. Yet captain Richie McCaw knows the situation and is optimistic. “It's an opportunity... We've given ourselves a chance,” he said.