South Africa produced a magnificent defensive effort to edge out New Zealand 12-11 in the Rugby World Cup final Oct. 28, claiming the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time in eight attempts.
Only a single yellow card had been shown in nine previous World Cup finals but the crackdown on foul play led to four being handed out over 80 minutes of intense rugby at Stade de France.
All Blacks skipper Sam Cane was the first player to be sent off in a title-decider when his yellow card was upgraded to red after a bunker review before halftime.
Despite playing for three quarters of the match with a man down, the All Blacks stuck to their ball-running game plan and scored the game’s only try through Beauden Barrett to draw within a point of the lead just before the hour mark.
The Springboks held firm under huge pressure in the final quarter, however, and Handre Pollard’s four first-half penalties proved sufficient to retain the title they won four years ago in Japan.
South Africa’s triumph kept the trophy in Southern Hemisphere hands for the fifth straight tournament and Siya Kolisi became only the second captain after All Black Richie McCaw to lift it twice.
“There are no ways I can explain it. … I am just grateful we could pull it off,” Kolisi said. (Reuters)