World Rugby

2023 Rugby World Cup: Jordan's Hat Trick Sends New Zealand Through To Final

2023 Rugby World Cup: Jordan's Hat Trick Sends New Zealand Through To Final

Will Jordan is one try from breaking the World Cup try-scoring record after his hat trick in New Zealand's 44-6 semifinal rout of Argentina.

Oct 21, 2023 by Briar Napier
2023 Rugby World Cup: Jordan's Hat Trick Sends New Zealand Through To Final

New Zealand and Rugby World Cup success seem to be synonymous, but the run the All Blacks are on has got to feel that much better.

In their 2023 semifinal fixture at the Stade de France, which lacked drama but had plenty of dynamic play from the three-time world champions, New Zealand, paced by a second-half surge, annihilated Argentina to move on to its fifth World Cup final. They'll also have an extra day’s rest before they face the winner of the England/South Africa semifinal.

There were doubts entering (and even during) this year's World Cup that New Zealand could perform at the high, trophy-capturing level it used to displaying. But since losing its opening match, NZ has been stellar and toppled foes one by one — and only one more is left standing between the All Blacks and the opportunity to lift the Webb Ellis Cup once again.

The All Blacks rolled to a 44-6 semifinal demolition in suburban Paris, which was oppositely-toned to the pulsating quarterfinal round, inching one step closer to World Cup history. Here’s a look at how New Zealand got back to the final for the first time since 2015:

All Blacks Are Back

From an all-time low spot of fifth in the world rankings just over a year ago to being on the cusp of what would be a record-breaking fourth Webb Ellis Cup, New Zealand, since losing its opening match of the World Cup to host France, has unleashed a devastating newfound edge that looks much like the dominant squads from Oceania of old. 

Coach Ian Foster’s side stomped an Argentina team that twice had beaten the All Blacks since the last World Cup. The win at the Stade de France helped New Zealand become the first country to book its place in next weekend’s World Cup final, as the world’s most successful rugby nation left no doubt on the pitch that it deserved to be there. 

Much will (rightly so) be talked about Will Jordan and his incredible performance — and this story will get to that in a little bit — but after humiliation by the Pumas in Christchurch in August 2022 (when Argentina defeated the All Blacks on New Zealand soil for the very first time), Friday night’s victory felt like a full-circle moment for New Zealand, which it rid itself of prior demons and doubts in an emphatic way. 

Argentina did not score a try and was held scoreless in the second half, as the All Blacks put on a vintage knockout-round performance worthy of being placed among their many, many high-stakes triumphs in the past. 

Jordan and Jordie Barrett each crossed over for tries in the opening 20 minutes, and when Emiliano Boffelli kicked through his second penalty of the match in the 35th minute to make it 12-6 New Zealand — potentially setting up the Pumas for only being one score and a conversion away from taking the lead entering halftime — it looked as if Argentina was going to be stubborn and prevent the All Blacks from pulling away. Then, the floodgates opened. 

A Richie Mo’unga penalty and the first of two tries from Shannon Frizell happened before the intermission to put New Zealand back in clear control by multiple tries (20-6), then Aaron Smith and Frizell scored again within the opening 10 minutes of the second half, as the All Blacks stomped on the gas pedal. 

Jordan’s final two tries of the match in the final quarter were merely extra icing on a sweet night for New Zealand.

Jordan Rules

All Will Jordan has done in his debut World Cup has equaled the single-tournament try-scoring record that is shared by two of his countrymen — and he has a game left to break the mark. 

The Crusaders superstar, only 25 years old, has what he and his country hope to be a long and fruitful career ahead of him, but even by New Zealand’s lofty standards, Jordan is smashing glass ceilings. 

Following his hat trick against the Pumas, Jordan has scored 31 tries in 30 test matches with the All Blacks, a blistering pace of over a try per match that easily would make him the country’s all-time leading try scorer (currently 49, held by former Blues and Munster wing Doug Howlett) in only a few years. 

Jordan’s opening try that put New Zealand in front after an early Pumas penalty proved to be a gloomy sign of things to come for Argentina, and his pace and anticipation during New Zealand’s unanswered run of seven consecutive tries was nothing short of world-class. 

He passed up France’s Damian Penaud as the competition’s top try scorer, but what he’ll be aiming for in the final will be something more hallowed — the all-time single-tournament record. 

With eight tries in France, Jordan has tied legendary Kiwis Jonah Lomu (1999) and Julian Savea (2015) — as well as South Africa’s former bullet on the wing, Bryan Habana (2007) — for the most in one go, and though the humble Jordan likely won’t be one to flaunt it, he’ll undoubtedly be a major part of Foster’s plans during his final match as All Blacks boss, before Jordan’s former club coach at the Crusaders, Scott Robertson, takes over in the dugout after the World Cup. 

Nonetheless, no matter who is in charge of team selection and tactics for New Zealand in the near future, Jordan clearly has proven throughout the past seven weeks that he is a near-untouchable whenever the All Blacks suit up.

Pumas Can Be Proud

It has been a banner World Cup for South American rugby, so while there’s understandable disappointment in the Argentine dressing room for the team's failure to qualify for the World Cup final in its third trip to the semifinals, the Pumas — along with the rest of the rugby scene on the continent — unquestionably can hold their heads up high. 

Their fight back from 10 points down to stun Wales in the quarterfinals was an admirable performance, and though there was little that likely was going to stop the electric All Blacks at the Stade de France in the semifinal, a host of questionable refereeing decisions in the first half from Australian official Angus Gardner didn’t exactly help Argentina’s cause and its will to fight on, either. 

Nevertheless, the Pumas will play in next week’s third-place match against the loser of the other semifinal on Saturday night, hoping to leave France after having matched their best World Cup performance of third place, which also was earned in France at the 2007 edition of the tournament. 

Additionally, for the future, as South American rugby continues to grow, Argentina’s profile and respect on the international stage will expand and help make countries around it better, too, such as through continental rivals Uruguay (which won a Pool A game against Namibia) and debutant Chile, which played the Pumas in Pool D as two South American nations squared off at a World Cup for the first time. 

Argentina clearly has found new life under former Australia boss Michael Cheika (who was appointed as coach in March 2022 and near-immediately improved the Pumas’ form). And, with assistant coach and former national team legend Felipe Contepomi taking over after the World Cup, the Pumas would love nothing more than to keep the good vibes going — and build back for Australia 2027 even stronger.