New Zealand: (6) 11
Try: B. Barrett Pencils: Mo’unga 2
South Africa: (12) 12
Pencils: Pollard 4

South Africa claimed their record fourth Rugby World Cup title by managing just enough to defeat 14-man Team New Zealand and retain their title in a tumultuous final in Paris.

The Springboks appeared to be in control when Sam Cane caught Jesse Kriel high in the 27th minute after Handre Pollard’s dead-eye shot had already given them a 9-3 lead.

The New Zealand captain was shown a red card at review and another Pollard penalty left the All Blacks a man down, nine points behind and in deep trouble.

But New Zealand rallied, took advantage of their luck and fought their way back into the game. Richie Mo’unga scored a penalty before half-time and Beauden Barrett picked up a loose ball and slid in after half-time to cut South Africa’s lead to 12-11.

Both teams pushed for the decisive goal in a tense, milk-soaked final quarter, but neither could get one as Jordie Barrett missed a long-range penalty in the 73rd minute, leaving the Springboks in the knockout game for third One-point victory in a row fought stages.

Siya Kolisi is the first man to win two Rugby World Cups away from home

Captain Siya Kolisi held his head in disbelief as he danced off the bench towards his teammates at the final whistle. His side became the first team to win the tournament on the road in a row – a stat highlighted by Jacques Nienaber, who moved to Leinster, beforehand – and is now undeniably the dominant force in World Cup history.

With their latest win, the Springboks have won half of the eight tournaments they have entered. South Africa was not represented in the first two editions as the rest of the world imposed a sporting exile in response to the country’s apartheid government.

At the time, the Springboks were hated by many black South Africans. But under the leadership of Kolisi – the team’s first black Test captain – they have gained support from across the spectrum of the rainbow nation.

Ian Foster’s four-year reign as New Zealand head coach ends just short of the ultimate prize after he came under pressure in pre-season as his team fell below their usual high historic standards.

Springboks remain tough in the thrill once again

While the full-throttle haka was still ringing out at the Stade de France, the two teams raced at each other from the start.

Eben Etzebeth equalized to Mo’unga to cheers and groans before Shannon Frizell’s desperate attempt to free South African hooker Bongi Mbonami from a breakdown took both players out of the game – one temporarily, one permanently.

Upon review, Frizell was sent off with a yellow card for clearing an ugly neck roll, while the injured Nbonambi, the Springboks’ only specialist hooker, was forced out of the game.

Deon Fourie, a converted flanker, came on for Nbonambi and with the man advantage his side made great progress.

Pollard, whose accuracy off the tee helped him to a starting position, took two penalties on the power play.

The physicality never let up. The collapse was a brawl. The line out was a lottery of limbs. The gainline was littered with big hits. Jordie Barrett and Damian de Allende charged at each other in midfield with wild abandon.

Pollard and Mo’unga exchanged penalties as the Springboks remained ahead 9-3.

But New Zealand, whose indiscipline cost them dearly in a warm-up defeat to the Boks at Twickenham in August, have once again overstepped the bounds of legality.

In the middle of heavy traffic, Cane got into a collision with Kriel. It was more overzealous than malicious, but his shoulder to the side of the South African centre-back’s head without attempting to lower it made a red card the likely outcome on review.

Referee Wayne Barnes announced the news as Pollard scored another penalty after good work from Steven Kitshoff.

Pollard landed his kick to dig New Zealand’s hole a little deeper and after 34 minutes and the All Blacks trailing 12-3, it seemed as if the fate of the competition and the cup had already been decided.

But the All Blacks protested against the script. Rieko Ioane was soon knocked down as they took advantage of a penalty, before Mo’unga sank a kick soon after to put his side into the tunnel 12-6 and theoretically still in touch.

However, their undermanned defense, caught between supporting the scrum and fending off the threat of South Africa’s fast wings, was overstretched.

Kolisi, who pushed his way onto the line after Beauden Barrett dropped a high ball into his lap, should have given Kriel a try within a minute of the restart. Kurt-Lee Arendse came within a few centimeters of a score while chasing a seemingly lost cause.

Springboks captain Kolisi was the third player to go down – his goal against Savea went up – and New Zealand, briefly on par in terms of personnel, opened the game up again.

Aaron Smith had already seen a try disallowed for an earlier attack when Jordie Barrett sent a powerful pass past Mark Telea’s goal.

The wing stepped forward, took a shot and dropped the ball as he was tackled just in front of the line. What mattered was that it was a setback and Beauden Barrett picked himself up and slid over.

Beauden Barrett’s try revived a contest that seemed to be running away from the All Blacks

Mo’unga’s conversion went wide and South Africa were ahead 12-11 with 20 minutes to go, but only by one point.

New Zealand threw everything they had at the Boks, whose defense struggled but remained intact.

The All Blacks’ best chance came when South African winger Cheslin Kolbe knocked the ball out of the air as he charged in to tackle the galloping Anton Lienert-Brown.

Kolbe received a yellow card for an intentional collision and Jordie Barrett called for a shot. But the All Black center’s shot – from a difficult angle just inside the Bok half – went wide and try as they might, his side couldn’t make the most of another spell with 14 players for the rest of the game get out.

After similarly narrow victories over France and England, with Kolisi’s legendary 1995 predecessor Francois Pienaar waiting for the final step, South Africa have taken the toughest and narrowest route to the trophy.

Pollard (right), who scored all of South Africa’s points and secured the Webb Ellis Trophy, was only called into the squad as a substitute

“The greatest rugby team of all time” – that’s what the BBC experts said

England’s 2003 World Cup winner Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think we saw the best rugby team ever. What they did in this tournament is simply remarkable – the way they got through their group and the knockout stages.”

“I don’t think it will ever be topped, and [it has] all [been] achieved with the goal of the current world champions behind us.”

“An amazing achievement”

Former South African captain Bobby Skinstad on 5 Live: “Incredible,” I choke, it’s an incredible achievement. Seeing Siya Kolisi lift the trophy a second time is a special moment.

“In a game like this I praise New Zealand. The game we thought we were going to get, we delivered it 100%.”

South African Pieter-Steph du Toit made 28 fierce tackles and was named man of the match

Why was Cane sent off and not Kolisi?

England’s 2003 World Cup captain Martin Johnson on Radio 5 Live: “Someone needs to explain to Sam Cane why he left the field and Siya Kolisi stayed.”

“Kolisi rammed his head into someone’s jaw and stayed on the field. I wouldn’t have sent either of them off the field – they were both accidents. One captain was 50 minutes away from the field and one wasn’t.”

“It is elation and relief for South Africa. They had such a tough draw and had to beat the hosts and then had a dramatic game last week, but tonight it suited them.”

New Zealand coach Ian Foster will be replaced by Crusaders’ Scott Robertson after the tournament

“All Blacks don’t let anyone down”

Former New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens on 5 Live: “The Springboks absolutely deserved their win. They were great in defense and were always a threat when the ball went past Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe.”

“The All Blacks had a few chances and didn’t let anyone down. They tried again and again and the country will be proud of them – they were great.”

“Sam Cane is not known for being a dirty player – he makes tough tackles but legally. On another occasion it might not be a red card.”

The South African defense made 209 tackles, limiting New Zealand to one try


South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (captain), Du Toit, Vermeulen.

Substitute: Fourie for Nbonambi (4), Le Roux for Willemse (66), Nche for Kitshoff (52), Kleyn for Etzebeth (58), Snyman for Mostert (52), Wiese for Kolisi (73), Smith for Vermeulen (58).Penalty box: Kolisi (45), Kolbe (74).

New Zealand: B Barrett; Jordan, Ioane, J. Barrett, Telea; Mo’unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Lomax, Retallick, S Barrett, Frizell, Cane (Capt), Savea.

Substitute: Liernert-Brown for Jordan (71), McKenzie for Mo’unga (75), Christie for Smith (66), Williams for de Groot (66), Taukeiaho for Taylor (66), Papali’i for Retallick (71). Not Uses: Laulala, Whitelock.

Penalty box: Frizzel (2).

Sent: Stock (27).

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