Paris, Oct 28 (EFE).- South Africa won a record fourth Rugby World Cup title 12-11 in an agonizing final against a heroic New Zealand in Paris on Saturday.
Beauden Barrett of New Zealand scores a try in front Faf de Klerk (L) of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2023 final between New Zealand and South Africa in Saint-Denis, France, 28 October 2023. EFE/EPA/YOAN VALAT
At a rain-soaked Stade de France, the Springboks repeated their 2019 success in Japan were crowned the team with the most World Cups, surpassing the All Blacks, who remain on three.
After the traditional New Zealand opening haka, the teams took to the field, but in the third minute All Black flanker Shannon Frizell was yellow carded for an illegal ruck clearout that saw Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi leave the pitch with an injured knee. Handré Pollard kicked off the scoreboard with the penalty.
Soon after, Pollard kicked another penalty after Codie Taylor failed to roll away in a ruck, taking the score to 0-6 in the 13th minute.
The All Blacks then went on the attack and Richie Mo’unga closed the gap with a penalty due to a Boks infringement to put New Zealand on the scoreboard.
But the infallible Pollard upped the ante just two minutes later by converting a long penalty.
The All Blacks’ uphill climb became harder when captain Sam Cane was yellow carded in the 29th minute for a head-high tackle on Jesse Kriel. The yellow was then raised to the first red card in a World Cup final, with Cane sent off and the All Blacks playing the rest of the game a man down.
South Africa redoubled their pressure with a fourth penalty by Pollard.
The New Zealanders then tried lateral attacks. In one of them, Rieko Ioane was on the verge of a try, only stopped in the last meter by Kurt-Lee Arendse, but Mo’unga scored another penalty to take the score to 6-12 at halftime.
While South Africa’s plan was working, New Zealand was just a try and conversion away from taking the lead.
The Springboks began the second half with more ambitious attacks, looking for a try that would allow them to get closer to closing the game, but missing two chances.
South African captain Siya Kolisi was then yellow carded for a high tackle on Ardie Savea before New Zealand scored a penalty, and in the 54th minute the ABs’ Aaron Smith scored a try, which was later ruled out by a knock-on in play.
The New Zealanders’ offensive was fierce, but the South African defense was no less so, and Kolisi returned after his 10 minutes in the sin-bin without the Boks’ lead having been narrowed.
The Kiwi attack did not relent and in the 58th minute Beauden Barrett scored his first try of the World Cup, which Mo’unga failed to convert, closing the gap to one point.
South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe was yellow carded in the 73rd minute for a deliberate knock-on resulting in a failed penalty kick for the Kiwis and the two teams both finishing a man down.
The All Blacks went all out in the last two minutes. The last scrum, with time running out, was agonizing and the Boks got the ball out of touch at the final whistle.
The South Africans took their third consecutive one-point win and a record fourth Webb Ellis Cup.