Ten moments that defined SA’s successful annexation of the Webb Ellis Cup
Springboks’ disciplined and aggressively defensive performance improved with each game in the Rugby World Cup
In beating England 32-12 in Yokohama on Saturday‚ the Springboks not only became the second team to win three World Cups after New Zealand but they also became the first side to conquer the world after losing a pool stage game.
It was a disciplined and aggressively defensive performance that improved with each game.
Here are 10 moments that defined SA’s successful annexation of the Webb Ellis Cup:
Cheslin Kolbe’s performance against New Zealand
Not a lot went right for the Boks in this game‚ including the officiating‚ but Kolbe was proving to be a big-game player despite his small frame. He was unfortunate not to cross the line but his never-say-die attitude was to be a hallmark of SA’s defensive performances.
SA show their scrumming power against New Zealand
Something the Boks got right against New Zealand was the scrum. Joe Moody’s elbow helped him get away with murder three times in the first half‚ but the SA scrum served notice of its ability that would win them the tournament.
Trevor Nyakane’s tears
The prop was having a wonderful game against New Zealand, which went unrewarded because of Jerome Garces’s officiating. It was mortifying to see him limp off with an ankle injury that would end his tournament participation. Such was SA’s depth at prop that he was not missed‚ but it was good to see him in good spirits when he danced after the final.
Pieter-Steph du Toit’s try against New Zealand
SA had plenty of opportunities to bury New Zealand‚ but it just was not happening for them in Yokohama. Du Toit, though, was able to emerge from next to a ruck and crashed over from close range. It was the first and not the last time SA’s physicality was rewarded.
After conceding two tries again New Zealand‚ the Boks embarked on two games against Italy and Namibia without having their try line breached. Those were two weak sides‚ but the Boks got their defensive alignment right. It was to serve them well through the tournament.
Siya’s spray towards Elton
In the final pool game against Canada‚ the Boks got off to a flying start‚ but predictably slowed down in the second half. Canada pressed for the elusive try and when it eventually came‚ it was from a mistake committed by Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn. Captain Siya Kolisi‚ who was intent on making sure the Boks finished with a clean sheet‚ was upset with Jantjies and gave him a piece of his mind. The Boks were to only concede one more try in three matches.
Mapimpi stretches himself against Japan
Japan had more than earned their quarterfinal spot after seeing off Ireland and Scotland‚ but SA’s ferocity was too much to handle in the quarterfinal. Kotaro Matsushima‚ Japan’s hero wing‚ tried to stop Mapimpi from scoring a try‚ but found himself being brushed off with disdainful ease and flew into the in-goal area before Mapimpi touched down.
Legendary Umhlobo Wenene commentator Mthuthuzeli Scott was moved to say on radio: “Suka kwedini‚ uyandinambuzelela.” [Get off my back, boy‚ you’re irritating me].
De Allende’s persistence gets rewarded when it counts
Wales were not about to give SA a free pass into the final and it needed a man who loves the World Cup to push them through. Damian de Allende announced himself in the 2015 edition‚ and then had a rough four years. He scored the critical try that forced Wales to play‚ but his hard work also encapsulated his importance to the SA cause.
Defensive dominance 2.0
Twenty-five phases and England were pushed back 25m. Had England scored in the 31st minute having camped on the Bok line‚ the score would have been 8-6 with the conversion to come. SA’s patience held out and the fight went out of England.
The Am and Mapimpi double act
Lukhanyo Am was waiting to shine and make his teammates look good. Just when England thought they would get into the game‚ he found a break‚ passed to Makazole Mapimpi‚ who chipped ahead. Am caught the kick‚ pulled off an outrageous no-look pass that led to SA’s first try in a World Cup final. The score of 25-12 was a bridge too far for England, and so it proved.