South Africa clinched a record fourth Rugby World Cup title by doing just enough to deny 14-man New Zealand and retain their crown in a helter-skelter final in Paris.
Asked how it felt to win back-to-back World Cups, Springboks captain Siya Kolisi admitted, “There are no ways I can explain it.
“I want to give credit to the All Blacks. They took us to the end, they took us to a dark place. It shows what kind of team they are, to fight with a man down from early in the game. They put us under so much pressure. Credit to my boys too for the fight. I am just grateful we could pull it off.”
On how his team managed to win, Kolisi simply stated, “We had to.
“We lost our hooker [Bongi Mbonambi] in the early part of the game and we had to adjust to that. They put a lot of pressure on our lineouts but somehow we found a way.
“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. We are just grateful that we can be here. I want to tell the people of South Africa ‘thank you so much’.
“This team just shows what you can do. As soon as we work together, all is possible, no matter in what sphere – in the field, in offices, it shows what we can do. I am grateful for this team, I am so proud of it.”
All Blacks vs Springboks player ratings.
Springboks player ratings.
1 Steven Kitshoff – 7
Offered a powerful carrying option around the park, as he trucked the ball up to leave the All Blacks with sore shoulders. Solid scrummaging from the off, and was key in throwing up Etzebeth and Mostert to disrupt the line-outs. (Ox Nche, 51′)
2 Mbongeni Mbonambi – N/a
Went down injured after an early ruck, as Shannon Frizzell landed with his entire bodyweight on Mbonambi’s out-stretched leg. Was seen warming up on the side-lines, but did not return with his run-out resembling Kyle Sinckler’s cameo from four years ago. (Dean Fourie, 3′).
3 Frans Malherbe – 6
Flew into the tackles, and left his mark on the All Blacks with the stakes as high as ever. Scrummed solidly with Kitshoff, and adapted well on the early introduction of Fourie. Strong pillar in the line-out. (Trevor Nyakane, 65′).
4 Eben Etzebeth – 7.5
Set the tempo of the match with a monstrous hit on Richie Mo’unga after two minutes. Flexed his muscles with big carries, and imposed his presence with line-out steals. Gave away a line-out penalty at 26 minutes, and an obstruction offence at 37 minutes. His physicality was as dominant as ever. (Jean Kleyn, 59′).
5 Franco Mostert – 7
Worked excellently with Etzebeth, and disrupted Codie Taylor’s line-out consistency. Heavy pressure on the set-piece with his second row partner taking the spotlight. (RG Snyman, 51′).
6 Siya Kolisi (c) -7.5
Achieved his goal in becoming the second captain after Richie McCaw to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup Finals. Suffocated Will Jordan’s attacking tempo, and could have played in Arendse for an early second half try. Sin binned for his high tackle on Ardie Savea, but returned to lead his side to glory.
7 Pieter-Steph Du Toit – 10
One of the best performances from any Springbok in a Rugby World Cup Final. Simply outstanding from du Toit, as he made a staggering 28 tackles, and bossed the collision over the gain-line. Started off like Etzebeth with a big hit on Mo’unga, and also repeatedly nailed 6ft 5 Jordie Barrett to turf. Phenomenal.
8 Duane Vermeulen – 7
Big hits along with his teammates, and carried with intent. Winning the Rugby World Cup in his final game of rugby, the 37-year-old left it all on the line and will now enjoy his retirement with another RWC winners medal. Biggest carry was at 42 minutes, as he flew into the line.
9 Faf de Klerk – 7.5
Immediate pressure on Aaron Smith, as he did not give the All Black an inch at the back of the scrum. As vocal as ever, and won penalties at the breakdown knowing that every penalty counts in the RWC final. Tackled Mark Tele’a off the ball, as tempers flared on the grandest stage. Started with Pollard for his 25th time, with the veteren partnership reaping the rewards.
10 Handre Pollard – 8.5
In for Manie Libbok who was left out of the entire match-day 23. Pollard set the tone with kicks at the goal from the get-go, to keep the score-board ticking over. Slotted the penalties really well, with a 49m effort showing his skillset. Left with a scar on his cheek, and a reminder of an epic performance in France.
11 Cheslin Kolbe – 7.5
A great kick chaser, Kolbe beat the likes of Will Jordan and Richie Mo’unga in the air. Great covering run on Reiko Ioane, to sweep up the loose ball in a dangerous position. Hit Will Jordan with two tackles straight out of a wrestling ring, and kept the tournament’s top try scorer quiet. Sin-binned for a deliberate knock on, and couldn’t watch the closing plays of the match.