France knocked New Zealand out of the 1999 and 2007 World Cups and gave them an almighty scare tonight, but the hosts held out to gain revenge.
New Zealand skipper McCaw said on ITV: "It's hard to let it sink in. I'm proud of every single one of the guys. We couldn't have been under more pressure at times but we stuck to our guns and got there in the end.
"I think the key was expecting things to happen. If you hope for the best and don't prepare for it when adversity comes you're not ready for it. Everyone dug as deep as they can."
Speaking of their long wait for the title, McCaw added: "I think at some stage some team was going to do it and this group of 30 had the opportunity.
"You just have to keep getting up and believing in the mate beside you and trust in him and make sure you do your job. Everyone around New Zealand has given this team so much over the past six weeks and now we've repaid them.
"There's going to be a lot of stories told as we get older but no-one here can take it away from this group. They're tough men and I think the whole country should be very proud of every single one of them."
New Zealand coach Graham Henry added: "I'm so proud to be a New Zealander standing here.
"Richie and the boys just hanging in there right through the 80 minutes to win this thing is superb. This is something we've dreamed of for a while and now we can rest in peace.
"I've got so much respect for what the boys have done over eight years. It's been outstanding."
France captain Thierry Dusautoir said: "I'm very proud of my boys for what they did during the World Cup. We lost two games in the pool and we came to the final so I'm really proud of them.
"We read a lot of stuff this week. I hope we showed that we were able to play rugby and play the final of the Rugby World Cup."
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