South Africa on the roof of the world. After 1995, 2007 and 2019, the Springboks won the fourth World Cup in their history this Saturday evening at the Stade de France against New Zealand (12-11). Fallers of the XV of France in the quarter-final (29-28) then of England in the semi-final (16-15), Siya Kolisi's teammates relied on what they knew how to do best. Permanent physical challenge, pressure in the rucks and busy kicking game, South Africa applied the perfect strategy to offer a New Zealand team reduced to 14 following the definitive exclusion of Sam Cane (34th) and which will not have gone far from an exploit.
In four years, almost nothing has changed. Victorious for England in the World Cup final in 2019, Jacques Nienaber's men continued to build around the executives of Malherbe, Etzebeth, du Toit, Kolisi, De Klerk, Kolbe and de Allende. Also adding the advent of electric Arendse, the confidence of Willemse but also a bench of XXL finishers. This Saturday evening, the “rainbow” nation added a new star and remains untouchable at first place in the world rankings.
The start of the match surprised no one. Kicking play, forward play, indiscipline... In the rain which fell on the pitch of the Stade de France, the Springboks perfectly controlled the first minutes. Faced with the physical challenge from South Africa, the All Blacks received, in the 3rd minute, a yellow card against Frizell for a dangerous delay on Mbonambi. Pollard, twice (3rd, 12th), allows his team to logically lead in the quarter of play, before New Zealand picks up. On a good offensive sequence, Ardie Savea is close to scoring after a measured foot play from Mo'unga in front of the Boks in-goal. But the rebound, as capricious as the weather this evening, fell into the hands of... Willemse, the South African full-back. The “Kiwis” opener still reduced the gap with a penalty (17th). Yes, but the indiscipline of Beauden Barrett's teammates is costing them dearly.
On the dismissal, Ardie Savea is punished with an illegal scratch and gives Pollard, as a perfect conductor, the opportunity to add three new points (19th). But five minutes from the end of the first period, the match took another turn. Sam Cane, the New Zealand captain, was guilty of a (too) high tackle on Mostert and, after checking the "bunker", finally received a yellow card transformed into a red. At the same time, the fireworks player Pollard allowed his team to make the first break of the match (34th, 12-3). Before Mo'unga scored three new points before halftime (12-6).
But at 14, Ian Foster's men didn't give up. Despite a hot alert in front of their goal from the kick-off and five minutes later on a touchline pass from Arendse, the All Blacks then invaded the Boks camp. In the meantime, Kolisi had received a yellow card (46th), which could have turned into a red card... And despite a try refused to Aaron Smith for a forward from Savea (45th), New Zealand finally found the fault thanks to Beauden Barrett, at the end of the line, after a superb jump pass from Jordie Barrett and a festival from Mark Telea (59th).
On one of the last match points, Jordie Barrett missed a penalty 40 meters to the right of the posts after having already failed against the bars for the conversion. At the end of a choppy, messy and suffocating end to the match where occupation was the key word, the Springboks, with forceps, finally emerged victorious from the immense challenge that awaited them. South Africa can savor and win, in France, its second consecutive World Cup.