Last night South Africa made history by narrowly defeating New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France in Paris, France. The Springboks were evenly matched with the All Blacks throughout the game with only one point between them.
This was a common theme for the Springboks throughout this year’s competition having narrowly defeated both England and France earlier in the competition. In comparison, New Zealand demolished Argentina in the semi-finals but had a tougher opponent in the world number one Ireland in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. Even in the group stages, New Zealand dropped a game to France in their opener while South Africa dropped a match to Ireland. Despite this, the All Blacks just couldn’t quite get the lead against the Springboks.
History In The Making: New Zealand Vs South Africa
Last night’s final was a huge one for the world of Rugby Union and South Africa and New Zealand. No matter who won last night, they would become the first team to hold the title four times. While The All Blacks went back to back in 2011 and 2015 another victory was on their minds. The Springboks were looking to go back-to-back this year while also achieving a huge history-making moment. Oh, and they succeeded but not without a fight.
The pair haven’t faced each other in a final since 1995 in which South Africa won, but New Zealand were determined to not allow this to be a repeat performance. It was a lot closer than their previous encounter but the result was still the same. It seems that when it comes down to it the New Zealand team can’t quite win the big one when it comes down to South Africa.
The whole of the first half was dominated by strong defending by both teams and a whole host of penalties. This gave The Springboks a comfortable lead heading into the second half. This is where things really ramped up, with The All Blacks breaking past their competitor’s defensive line and scoring a Try. Unfortunately, there was a Knock On which meant the try was disallowed. A huge blow for New Zealand who were on a roll at this point and with only with 14 men thanks to an early red card in the first half to NZ captain Sam Cane.
This wasn’t the first card of the night but it was the first red card to ever be issued during a World Cup final. A devastating blow to the New Zealand team and Sam Crane who was sent off in the 27th minute after an upright tackle on Jesse Kriel of South Africa. The All Blacks had already received a yellow card earlier in the first half due to a falling twisting tackle that didn’t go quite to plan. Luckily this reminded a yellow card as it was all just an accident.
New Zealand did rectify their disallowed Try with another one but was unable to gain the conversion. This was just after Springbok Cheslin Kolbe was sent to the sin-bin due to a very deliberate kickdown that incited boos from the fans in the Stade de France. There were lots of what-ifs during this game but it was an incredible game between two of the best in the world. How close the games leading to the final and final itself really shows off just how close these teams really are in skill. It does make for an interesting and entertaining tournament.