Though favourites to take the title against a French side which has been hampered by infighting and accusations of ugly play, the All Blacks faced a nerve-shredding battle to see out the match with a tight 8-7 victory over their European rivals.
Their victory at Eden Park in Auckland came 24 years after they last took the title with a 20-point win over the same opponents at the same venue in 1987, and has helped lift the spirits of a nation hit by successive tragedies in the Christchurch earthquake and the Pike River mine disaster.
George Simpkin, watching in Christchurch’s Hagley Park fan zone – which was packed with around 15,000 supporters cheering on their team on a big screen – said the game had given him “tingles down the spine”.
He said: “They are an amazing team and I’m so happy they won. They deserve it.’’
Many were close to tears as they watched All Blacks captain Richie McCaw raise the Webb Ellis Cup.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of expat New Zealanders in London celebrated their side’s victory at antipodean hotspots around the capital.
Angela Rodger of Wellington said: “Being able to come together with other Kiwis and watch the game in the same place is the next best thing to being at home. The atmosphere has been great and I’m sure that there will be a fair few sore heads tomorrow morning.”