New Zealand wins Rugby World Cup

New Zealand has won the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1987 after beating an inspired French side by a single point.

The match finished 8-7 to New Zealand, sending Eden Park and the rugby-mad nation into ecstasy.

The tournament host's and favourites managed to edge out France in an extremely nervy encounter. A single try from prop Tony Woodcock and a second-half penalty from fourth-choice fly-half Steven Donald were enough to see the All Blacks home in a match that defied all predictions.

It was a long way off the walk-over that many people expected and France produced their best display of the tournament, however, it was almost as if destiny was against them after coming so close and yet being so far from winning.

It was far from the flowing rugby we've come to expect from New Zealand but all that mattered to them was winning, as was seen etched onto the players' faces at the end of the final whistle.

They sank to their feet knowing they had finally delivered another world cup, 24 years of wait and hurt finally over, and it triggered scenes of jubilation and celebration around the stadium, around Auckland, and around the country.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said: "No one can ever take this away from this group. I think the whole country should be proud of every single one of them. I'm just so proud of every single one of the guys. We couldn't have been under any more pressure. Everyone dug as deep as they can."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry said: "The people have been outstanding ... the people who have supported this team and have supported this world cup - I am so proud to be a New Zealander standing here.

“As a day this is something we have dreamed of for a while - we can rest in peace.”

If you're travelling at the moment on your gap year then New Zealand is truly the place to be. The parties will go long into the night tonight and the celebrations will continue for weeks to come.

Winning the world cup is something the nation has dreamt of and believed in for decades - now that it's finally here they're not likely to forget it anytime soon. After such an earth-shattering year the Kiwis have had they finally have something to celebrate. The 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Where in the world did you watch it? What did you think of the match? And are you partying in New Zealand right now?

Photo of the Rugby World Cup taken by Audrey Pilato (via Creative Commons)