In the legend. The South African Springboks adorned themselves with glory at home. never by winning, on Saturday, in front of the All Blacks (12-11), their second title of world champions in a row, their fourth in total.
After the global crowns of 1995, 2007 and 2019, South Africa established itself on the throne of world rugby by becoming the most successful team in the competition. In front of the New Zealanders, crowned in 1987, 2011 and 2015.
The Boks have never lost in the World Cup final, having -already- dominated New Zealand (15-12 AD). ) in 1995 then England (15-6) in 2007 and again (32-12) in 2019.
They also retain the Webb-Ellis Cup, a first since… the All Blacks, authors of the 2011-2015 double.
Far from the lyrical flights of legendary teammates Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, considered at the time as the greatest All Black team in history, the Springboks of 2019 and 2023 relied on the kicking game of their opener Handré Pollard (12 points), already decisive four years ago, to seek a new coronation and carve out an eternal place in the rugby pantheon.
To build this world victory, four years after their title in Japan, the thinking heads of the Boks Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber were able to count on what makes their strength: a titanium pack, an intractable conquest and, above all, a bench as powerful as it is decisive.
The third row Deon Fourie, a short-lived player from Lyon and Grenoblev who can also help out at hooker, had to come into play after four minutes to replace the only N .2 of the squad Bongi Mbonambi, injured in a knee. With success since he made 21 tackles, seven fewer than the omnipresent Pieter-Steph du Toit.
– 'No choice' –
South Africa's fly-half strikes a penalty in his team's World Cup final victory over New Zealand , at the Stade de France in Sainte-Denis, France, October 28, 2023 © AFP – Anne-Christine POUJOULAT
The wrecking ball Ox Nche (52nd) or the colossal RG Snyman (52nd) and Kwagga Smith (60th) also emerged from the bench to make their contribution to the building of the rainbow nation, once shaken by the temporary exclusions of captain Siya Kolisi (46th), future Racing 92 player, and winger Cheslin Kolbe (73rd), executioner of the Blues in the quarter.
“The All Blacks pushed us to our limits, they put us under pressure but that shows the kind of team we are. We have to give credit to the guys for this battle,” said captain Siya Kolisi. /p>
“We had no choice but to win. (…) People who are not South African cannot understand what this means for our country: it is not not just a match,” added the third row.
His teammates also, and above all, knew how to take advantage of New Zealand's unusual indiscipline, marked by five penalties conceded but especially the yellow card for third row Shannon Frizell (3rd) and the one, transformed into red by the bunker, collected by captain Sam Cane (34th).
Formidably pragmatic, the Springboks had clearly aimed for this World Cup in France, overshadowing the Rugby Championship. And regardless of the defeat against Ireland (13-8), the Boks went for this title through self-sacrifice, notably dominating Scotland (18-3), Romania (76-0) then the Tonga (49-18) during the group stage. Before knocking out France (29-28) in the quarter and then England (16-15) in the half, already by a point difference.
“The last three matches have been complicated but we played them as if they were finals and we won them by one point. We're quite happy”, smiled third row Pieter-Steph du Toit.
– Power four –
New Zealand players Scott Barrett (left) and Jordie Barrett (right) disappointed after the Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa, at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France, October 28, 2023 © AFP – Miguel MEDINA
“I think that, as a team, we like drama. We have experienced it over the last four years and it has helped us a lot as a team. team, to overcome difficulties. It demonstrates the resilience of our team,” he added.
In the final, they also benefited from a bit of luck, like a try refused to Aaron Smith (54th) for a forward and the lack of opportunism of the Blacks, who missed a penalty by Jordie Barrett (74th) at the very end of the match.
Luck, it took as much as talent to beat this New Zealand team, incredible in courage, led by the fantastic Brodie Retallick, Richie Mo' unga and Beauden Barrett.
The full-back, voted best player in the world in 2016 and 2017, also scored the only try of the match. But that wasn't enough to stop the Springboks from making history.
They will have the opportunity to strengthen their hold on world rugby, in four years in Australia, during a World Cup now contested by twenty-four.
The Northern Hemisphere, which has only won one World Cup, by England in 2003, is warned: it will be necessary to be strong to derail the South African machine.
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