McCaw salutes triumphant All Blacks
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw hailed his team's courage and desire after they ended 24 years of hurt by winning the closest final in World Cup history.
The All Blacks had played under intense pressure for six weeks - they lost injured fly-halves Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade along the way - but somehow prevailed 8-7 against fired-up France.
"It wasn't very pretty, but it came down to how much desire, how much courage the boys had," McCaw said.
Les Bleus set the tone before kick-off, marching on New Zealand's traditional pre-match haka. By transgressing across the halfway line, France are likely to be hit with a £10,000 fine from World Cup organisers.
But money could not buy the gesture - and intensity of France's subsequent challenge - as they pushed New Zealand to the limit with a performance that belied their miserable pre-final form.
Relief was etched deep into the faces of McCaw, All Blacks supremo Graham Henry and his coaching colleagues Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, before victory was secured by two unlikely heroes - prop Tony Woodcock, who scored the All Blacks try, and a second-half penalty from substitute Stephen Donald.
The All Blacks squad will now begin three days of public celebration, starting with an open-top bus tour through central Auckland on Monday, but it could - and perhaps should - have been a different story.
McCaw added: "A lot of guys have put a lot of effort in for a long time, and they weren't going to let the opportunity go. We probably didn't play our best, but we played good enough. I take my hat off to every single player who took to the field."
Thierry Dusautoir's converted try brought France to within a point of the tournament hosts, and McCaw said: "The big thing was not panicking. We had talked about being in situations like that for a few years, and what we would do in those situations.
"You have got to keep the belief and trust. We had to dig pretty deep, but the last thing we wanted to do was panic. We managed to hang in there. We know we were going to be in for a hell of a game. We realised that all week. You couldn't get much tougher than it was today. The guys stuck to their guns, and we got there."