What a match!
Pretty it sure wasn’t; but pretty doesn’t necessarily win you a World Cup. Rather, passion, character and the knowledge that you are playing for something so much bigger are the ingredients for success on the big stage.
And on an autumn evening in Paris, the Springboks played. The Springboks fought, bled. And the Springboks won the Webb Ellis Trophy for South Africa.
South Africa is officially the most successful World Cup country yet after beating New Zealand in a titanic duel at the Stade de France with 12 – 11.
The Springboks thus became the first team in the tournament’s history to hold up the silverware for the fourth time. At the same time, they also successfully defended their title – which they won in Japan four years ago.
Rugby is a team sport, but one can certainly also single out a few individual performances: There was Handré Pollard’s accurate kicking and Damian Willemse’s runs, but in knockout rugby defense is often the difference between winning and losing.
And no one tackled harder and better than Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The 31-year-old loose forward made 28 successful tackles and his smashes regularly robbed the All Blacks of valuable momentum.
No wonder he was named the player of the match.
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 28, 2023
Indeed, there are two protagonist teams in any final and the Kiwis undoubtedly deserve praise for their play and resilience – especially after captain Sam Cane’s red card early in the game.
But South Africa also had to dig deep at the same time after Siya Kolisi and Cheslin Kolbe were sent off with yellow cards, while Bongi Mbonambi also suffered an injury early in the clash.
Tonight, however, there was only one Oscar up for grabs in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. And after 80 minutes of rock-hard rugby, the Springboks took it in stride.
Just like in the quarter-final and in the semi-final, one point was once again enough.
More than enough.
South Africa: Penalty kicks: Handré Pollard (4).
New Zealand: Three: Beauden Barrett. Penalties: Richie Mo’unga (2).