The Springboks retained their title in thrilling fashion, winning 12-11, in Paris
South Africa retained their Rugby World Cup title in the most dramatic of circumstances with a third consecutive one-point win, this time repelling a courageous fightback from 14-man New Zealand to prevail 12-11 at the Stade de France.
Sam Cane’s red card, becoming the first man to be sent off in the final, followed Shannon Frizell’s third-minute yellow as the All Blacks got off to a woeful start where discipline was concerned. That being said they only went in 12-6 down at the break as Handre Pollard and Richie Mo’ounga exchanged penalties.
However, no team has ever come from behind at half-time in the World Cup final to win, let alone a man down but it was a mountain the All Blacks almost climbed. It was ten South Africa’s turn to see their captain trudging off in the second half as Siya Kolisi saw yellow for making head-on-head contact with Ardie Savea. Crucially, however, his misdemeanour was not upgraded.
Some Mo’unga magic looked to have teed up Aaron Smith for a super score only for the try to be chalked off for a Savea knock-on in the build-up. Undeterred, the All Blacks continued to plug away and a monster Jordie Barrett pass set Mark Tele’a away and his offload was picked up on the bounce by Beauden Barrett who dotted down.
The full-back became the first man to ever score a try against the Springboks in a World Cup final. However, Mo’unga was unable to convert leaving it a one-point game.
Jordie Barrett pulled a 49-metre penalty effort wide of the uprights with little more than five minutes left and South Africa managed to hold on to become the first side to ever win four World Cups, half of the eight they have competed in.
This pulsating contest scarcely believably came off the back of consecutive wins by the same margin against England and hosts France to seal the narrowest of triumphs. Pieter-Steph du Toit made a phenomenal 28 tackles in a phenomenal Player of the Match performance.
This marks the end of an incredible era for the Springboks with Jacques Nienaber moving to Leinster and the vast majority of a mature squad unlikely to make it to Australia in four years’ time. But what a way to sign off, matching the All Blacks of 2011 and 2015 against the old enemy in what was almost certainly the greatest final we’ve ever seen. Chapeau.