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N. Zealand granted French leave for All Black final

New Zealand will play the World Cup final in their traditional all black strip despite France, who will be in white shirts, winning the toss for choice of colours ahead of Sunday’s match at Eden Park.

Historically, shirt colour never used to be an issue between the two countries with France wearing navy blue and New Zealand, this year’s World Cup hosts, black.

But the decision of France’s kit suppliers Nike to develop a darker blue shirt for the 2007 World Cup caused problems ahead of a quarter-final clash against New Zealand in Cardiff.

Eventually, after much debate, France played in blue and New Zealand an unfamiliar grey in a dramatic match the French won 20-18.

Traditionally in rugby, unlike football, if there was a clash of colours between the two teams it was the home side who would change.

Hence the sight of the All Blacks playing Tests against Scotland, whose first-choice colour is dark blue, in New Zealand while wearing white shirts.

But France team manager Jo Maso said his side were happy to change as a mark of respect for “the welcome they’d received from the people of New Zealand, the faultless organisation of the tournament and the honour and pleasure of playing the 2011 Rugby World Cup final in the legendary stadium of Eden Park”.

Meanwhile, it was announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert will referee Sunday’s match.

The showpiece match will be Joubert’s first time in charge of a World Cup final.

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