Defending Champion South Africa emerged victorious against New Zealand in a tightly contested Rugby World Cup final with a narrow 12-11 win, marking their historic fourth Webb Ellis Cup triumph on Saturday, October 28th.
The thrilling match, witnessed by over 80,000 spectators at Stade de France, was characterized by stringent rules enforcement, resulting in an unprecedented four yellow cards compared to only one in the nine previous World Cup finals.
The New Zealand All Blacks faced a significant setback when their captain, Sam Cane, received a red card for a high tackle, the first in a World Cup final, reducing the team to 14 players.
South Africa’s Springboks, under Captain Siya Kolisi’s leadership, showcased a robust defensive strategy. Handre Pollard’s four penalties in the first half were crucial in securing the Springboks’ victory.
The Springboks’ first Rugby World Cup title was won in 1995 against New Zealand. The team won again in 2007 and 2019. South Africa holds the most titles, having won the Rugby World Cup four times, followed by New Zealand with three titles, Australia with two titles, and England with 1.
Kolisi expressed his gratitude and highlighted the team’s unity in overcoming challenges. “There are no ways I can explain it. The All Blacks took us to the end, they took us to a dark place,” Kolisi said. “Credit to my boys too for the fight. I am just grateful we could pull it off.”
New Zealand’s Shannon Frizell received an early yellow card, leading to Pollard’s penalty kick which proved important in the Springboks victory.
Kolisi, who is the first Black captain for the Springboks, celebrated the victory, saying “People who are not from South Africa don’t understand what it means for our country. It is not just about the game. Our country goes through such a lot. I want to tell the people of South Africa, ‘Thank you so much.’ This team just shows what you can do.”
With this title, Kolisi and the Springboks became the first team to hold Rugby World Cup trophies back-to-back in away games.
Matt Dawson, England’s 2003 World Cup winner, while talking to BBC Radio, said, “I think we have witnessed the greatest ever rugby side. What they have done in this tournament is simply remarkable.”
He continued, “I don’t think it will ever be surpassed.”
Since the Rugby World Cup’s founding in 1987, there have been 10 games, with South Africa participating in 8 games due to the sporting world shunning the nation because of the apartheid government. With this win, the Springboks have won half of their appearances at the Rugby World Cup.