Rugby World Cup: Scene is set for All Blacks to face Springboks in final - Sky
ANALYSIS: If the All Blacks can book a place in the World Cup final in Paris in a fortnight, let's hope they collide with their great southern hemisphere rivals, the Springboks.
Imagine it, a replay of the 1995 final in Johannesburg. It would be perfect.
It would be a black eye for the northern hemisphere sides, who many predicted would dominate this tournament in France, but who cares? You want the best playing the best.
The Springboks revealed, once again, their true colours when they beat the French 29-28 in Paris on Monday morning (NZT). They are a team of tough gladiators, a bunch of wild hombres who broke the hearts of the millions of Les Bleus supporters who were glued to their TV screens around the country and and also filled Stade de France.
If the All Blacks do reach the final they had best steel themselves for a wild, noisy night in Saint-Denis, the suburb where the massive arena is situated. Get lost, they may say, it's not as if that's a news flash.
Maybe not. After their magnificent 28-24 victory over Ireland in the quarterfinal at the same arena, the All Blacks may already feel they are well qualified in the art of having to play in front of hostile fans.
And let's not forget their defeat to the French in the opening game of the tournament inside the stadium on September 9.
First things first, of course. If the All Blacks beat Argentina in their semi – and that remains a big “if” – they will want as many men as possible available to face the Springboks.
The Boks, of course, must account for England in their semi next weekend. They could stumble. Let's hope not.
England aren't a bad side, but they're not that good either; they struggled to put away Fiji 30-24 in their quarterfinal in Marseille, and are as entertaining as watching eggs boil.
Yes, South Africa deserve to be in the running for a gold or silver medal, not participating in the bronze disc fixture that no-one is really interested in.
You could say the same about the All Blacks, after they put an end to Ireland's 17-match winning streak.
French captain and halfback Antoine Dupont, playing his first game since fracturing a cheekbone, was tremendous for his team but not even the little maestro could get the hosts home.
With only a scrum cap for protection, he displayed little fear in contact, kicked and ran cleverly and it was his quick penalty tap that resulted in a try to hooker Peato Mauvaka.
South Africa, though, were better. They hung tough and finished fastest.
The noise inside the ground was unbelievable. Much noisier than the game between the All Blacks and Ireland. It rattled the ear drums and rattled your eye sockets.
The lesson for the All Blacks? Pour all of their energy into the task of beating the Pumas.
And, then, try to win over the hearts and minds of the French fans. It could be worth half a dozen points.
Enough, perhaps, to help them win the Webb Ellis Cup.