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8 scrum-halves who guided their team to World Cup glory

David Kirk (captain), New Zealand – 1987

Fresh-faced but a hard-bitten competitor. Kirk was nippy around the fringes and scored NZ’s second try as they overwhelmed France 29-9 in the inaugural World Cup final in Auckland.

Nick Farr-Jones (captain), Australia – 1991

Irrepressible character with the speed of an outside back. Skippered the Wallabies to victory over NZ in the semis, and kept Will Carling’s England at bay 12-6 in the Twickenham final.

Joost van der Westhuizen, South Africa – 1995

The late great Joost made it his mission to man-mark Jonah Lomu in SA’s 15-12 triumph at Ellis Park. Brave, a superb athlete, and a ferocious combatant with the finishing skills of a wing.

George Gregan, Australia – 1999

Instant legend after miracle tackle on NZ’s Jeff Wilson. Unshakeable confidence, huge work rate, great tactical nous in 35-12 dusting of France in Cardiff – and “four more years” sledger in 2003.

Kyran Bracken/Matt Dawson, England – 2003

Two competing world class 9s kept both pin-sharp – and England in pole. Dawson’s break before Wilkinson’s 20-17 drop-goal in Sydney was a product of Bracken pushing him all the way.

Photo: Getty Images

Fourie du Preez, South Africa – 2007

The strategic hub of the Springbok victory in 2007. Fast, elusive, and a lethal finisher who seized chances in the blink of an eye. Tactical kicking nailed England in SA’s 15-6 final win in Paris.

Piri Weepu/Andy Ellis, New Zealand 2011

Not quite in the same class as those 9s who preceded them, but Weepu’s goal-kicking was crucial to NZ squeezing over the line 8-7 against France in Auckland, and Ellis could raise the tempo.

Aaron Smith, New Zealand – 2015

Practice makes perfect, and Smith’s pass is a beauty, combining great footwork, balance and dexterity. It buys NZ backs split seconds. High tempo dynamo in 34-17 final win over Australia.

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