West News Wire: In a thrilling arm wrestle of a Rugby World Cup final, South Africa overcame 14-man New Zealand 12-11 to capture the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-tying fourth time. This was accomplished by an outstanding defensive performance.
Nine previous World Cup finals had only seen one yellow card, but on Saturday, in front of an attendance of 80,065 at the Stade de France, four were sent out during a heated 80 minutes of rugby due to a crackdown on foul play.
Before half-time, All Blacks captain Sam Cane’s card for a high tackle was raised to a red following a bunker review, earning him the disgrace of becoming the first player to be sent out in a title decider.
Despite playing for three-quarters of the match a man short, however, the All Blacks stuck to their ball-running game plan and scored the match’s only try through Beauden Barrett to get within a point of the lead just before the hour mark.
The Springboks, led by man of the match Pieter-Steph du Toit, managed to hold firm under huge pressure over the final quarter and Handre Pollard’s four first-half penalties proved sufficient to add another title to those of 1995, 2007 and 2019.
With their victory, South Africa retained the trophy in the southern hemisphere for a record five tournaments running, with All Black Richie McCaw being the only other skipper to win it twice in his career, Siya Kolisi.
“I can’t even begin to explain it. Kolisi stated, “The All Blacks took us to the brink, they took us to a dark place.”
“My boys deserve credit for the fight as well. I’m simply happy we were able to make it work.
“We are like the last line of defense in our country, and we can show that we can achieve so much together, even though there is so much going wrong.”
All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell was the first to be shown a yellow card as early as the third minute for a clearout on Bongi Mbonambi that forced the Springboks hooker off the rain-sodden pitch with a leg injury.
Coach Ian Foster of New Zealand said that the way Cane and Kolisi’s cards turned out was a key element in his team’s victory, as they had also been hoping for a fourth World Cup.
“There are some issues with the game that need to be resolved,” he stated. “It’s not bitter grapes,” The game was played out in two similar events, one of which was a red one and the other a yellow one.
Cane, who was devastated, claimed that the red card he had been given would need him to “live forever.”
Cane told reporters, “We have been at the tournament for two months, and anything around the head has ramifications.”
“It cannot be changed, and I am not here to judge whether it is good or bad. Regretfully, I have to deal with that.