Richie McCaw was the defendant in Rugby World Cup's first ever trial by social media 7 years ago

Richie McCaw was the defendant in Rugby World Cup's first ever trial by social media

Richie McCaw will lead the defending champions out for the World Cup final on Hallowe'en night, but not before he received a bit of a fright.

The All Blacks captain was his typically imperious self in New Zealand's nervy 20-18 win over South Africa on Saturday, but one first-half incident in particular - missed by virtually all viewers - came to dominate the aftermath.

Advertisement

The debate over whether or not McCaw would be cited for a perceived elbow on Francois Louw generated headlines around the world and confirmed that #RWC2015 is the first Rugby World Cup to be truly influenced by social media.

It all began not long after the match finished when Irish rugby writer Andy McGeady shared a vine.

Advertisement

That vine was shared by a voluble rugby pundit with lots of followers and lots of opinions.

Advertisement

It wasn't long before the messenger was taking flak, so said pundit offered his definitive opinion to quieten the masses.

Advertisement

On Sunday, the day of the Australia-Argentina semi-final, the possible McCaw-Louw incident was still generating conversation.

Despite no word from World Rugby on the possibility of a citing, McCaw's coach Steve Hansen found himself discussing the matter at his press conference on Sunday.

Advertisement

Meanwhile Twitter users were having fun as the world waited for word from the citing officer.

Despite the original footage appearing to be far from conclusive, there emerged the rugby "Zapruder Film" that would exonerate McCaw.

As others, such as the TV3 panel, backed the World Cup-winning captain.

About 25 hours after the storm first started brewing, the citing report was made public, exonerating McCaw and confirming his eligibility to face Australia.

Even if some media outlets continued to use suggestive pictures on their stories.

On social media there was anger with the newspapers for reporting on a story that had its origins on social media.

But some were not going to let McCaw's innocence get in the way of a good joke.

After the whole thing died down both teams could turn their attention to first ever all-Antipodean World Cup final, even if the ABs have been much more quiet than the Wallabies.