YOKOHAMA – South Africa lifted the Rugby World Cup for the third time after a clinical 32-12 victory over England in Saturday’s final.
The Springboks grinded England down with their awesome forward power combined with metronomic kicking from standoff Handre Pollard, and headed into the final 20 minutes at International Stadium Yokohama with a six-point lead.
Makazole Mapimpi then put daylight between the two teams with the game’s first try in the 66th minute, before Cheslin Kolbe added another with six minutes remaining to seal the victory.
South Africa added to its World Cup wins in 1995 and 2007 to join New Zealand as the only countries to have captured the Webb Ellis Cup three times, with captain Siya Kolisi becoming the first black Springbok captain to lift the trophy.
“I’m grateful for everything this team has been through,” said Kolisi. “We’ve faced a lot of challenges but the people of South Africa have got behind us. We are so grateful to the people of South Africa.
“We have so many problems in our country, but to have a team like this — we come from different backgrounds, different races and we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it. I really hope we’ve done that for South Africa, to show that we can pull together and achieve something.”
England reached the final after beating New Zealand 19-7 in a momentous semifinal effort, but the team could not manage to gain the upper hand against the Springboks and failed to lift the World Cup for the second time.
“We just struggled to get in the game,” said England head coach Eddie Jones. “The effort of the players was outstanding. We just struggled to get on the front foot today.
“I can’t fault the preparation of the players. They’ve worked hard the entire World Cup and I think they’ve played with a lot of pride and passion. We just weren’t good enough today and congratulations to South Africa on an outstanding performance.”
South Africa was awarded a penalty with just 45 seconds on the clock, only for Pollard to miss his kick from just inside the England half.
England then lost prop Kyle Sinckler after he collided with teammate Maro Itoje’s shoulder while making a tackle, knocking himself out in the process. Dan Cole came on in his place.
Pollard put the Springboks ahead with a penalty right in front of the posts in the 10th minute, before Owen Farrell landed one for England to level the score 13 minutes later.
Pollard replied with a penalty immediately afterward to restore South Africa’s lead, before Farrell evened things up again following an intense period of England attacking at the Springboks’ line.
Pollard then kicked two penalties in quickfire succession late in the first half to send South Africa into the break with a six-point lead, and the standoff bagged another six minutes after the restart after the Springboks scrum had driven England back once again.
England’s scrum soon fought its way back into contention, however, and won a penalty that Farrell slotted over in the 52nd minute to reduce the deficit to six points.
Pollard and Farrell exchanged penalties again to send the game into the final 20 minutes with South Africa six points in front, before Mapimpi streaked over the line for the game’s first try to give the Springboks a clear advantage. Referee Jerome Garces judged there was no knock-on in the buildup after a video replay, and Pollard kicked the conversion.
Kolbe made the game safe in the 74th minute, skipping through the England defense to touch down for a try in the corner.
“I think the boys believed in themselves,” said South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus. “This bunch of guys have been together for 19 weeks. We know one another really well. We’ve got so much respect for England.
“We really prepared well, and I think right until the end. I’m so proud of them. I think we were also a little bit fortunate, but we’re really enjoying it at this stage.”
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