It all comes down to this: The winner of the Webb Ellis Cup will be decided on Saturday, with heavyweights New Zealand and South Africa squaring off in the 2023 Rugby World Cup Gold Medal Match at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Peacock and CNBC.
The All Blacks and Springboks won’t just be battling for this year’s title in France, they’ll also battle to break their tie atop the Rugby World Cup all-time leaderboard with three championships apiece. They’ve combined for six of the nine gold medals in the event’s history, a number that will grow Saturday to seven of 10, whichever side claims their fourth. They’ve each won two of the past four golds (with South Africa the reigning champ), and they’ll meet in the final for the first time since South Africa won their first title back in 1995.
This year, neither nation won their pool — New Zealand fell to France in the World Cup opener; South Africa fell to Ireland 15 days later — but each rose to the occasion in the knockout stage.
The Springboks did so by the skin of their teeth. They defeated France, which opened the World Cup ranked No. 3 in the world, in a 29-28 duel before eking out another one-point victory with a low-scoring 16-15 semifinal win over England.
The All Blacks’ Gold Medal Match berth came in slightly easier fashion. It took a close 28-24 battle with pre-tournament No. 1 Ireland to advance past the quarterfinal, but head coach Ian Foster’s group breezed through a 38-point semifinal blowout over Argentina.
“It’s gonna be tight,” South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber said of the final after his team punched its ticket. “[The All Blacks] are in excellent form. I think if you look at their last couple of games, if you probably are not going to get close to 30 or 35 points, you won’t be in the mix.”
The end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup will usher in a new era for both teams, with Nienaber and Foster both on their way out as head coach.
And there’s no better way to go out than with a gold medal in tow.
“Probably couldn’t be scripted better, could it? In many ways. For us, from an All Black view, South Africa’s always been a great foe,” Foster told New Zealand news service Newshub on Monday. “You’ve got great teams that have got a chance to crack some history, being the first team to win four times.
“There’s a lot at stake. And to play them in a final, it just couldn’t be better.”
How to watch the 2023 Rugby World Cup Gold Medal Match: New Zealand v. South Africa
- When: Saturday, Oct. 28
- Where: Stade de France — Saint-Denis, France
- Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
- Watch: Peacock, CNBC
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