The clash was a nail-biting, heart-pounding spectacle amidst the pouring rain at the legendary Stade de France. But lo and behold, the Springboks emerged triumphant, clinching their third consecutive knockout victory in this epic tournament by the slimmest of margins. This glorious win adds to their illustrious collection of titles, joining the ranks of their previous conquests in 1995, 2007, and 2019.

By Mashobane wakoMntungwa

South Africa has once again proven its supremacy in rugby, defending the crown with the strength and determination of a mighty lion safeguarding its territory. Any debates regarding the most dominant rugby nation on earth can now be put to rest, just like a calm sea after a storm.

No country had previously accomplished the remarkable feat of winning four Rugby World Cup championships. Furthermore, despite the presence of light rain on a Parisian evening, the ambience was unmistakably filled with the importance of an exceptionally momentous occasion.

What an incredible battle it was! A truly exhilarating contest that will forever be remembered in the history of sports. This story revolves around two exceptional captains, whose leadership skills shone brightly throughout. Let us take a moment to reflect on that unforgettable day when Boks captain Siya Kolisi proudly lifted the Webb Ellis Cup high above his head in Japan. This moment has become ingrained in the fabric of rugby folklore, and now, Springbok supporters are filled with a sense of nostalgia. It is a powerful reminder of the unwavering spirit that runs through the veins of our beloved team.

Sam Cane, Siya’s counterpart in the All Blacks team, found himself entangled in the clutches of a merciless fate. Like a lone wanderer, he descended into the abyss of a night cloaked in impenetrable shadows, where hope flickered like a distant star.

Cane’s world came crashing down as the referee brandished the dreaded red card, a symbol of his transgression, after a meticulous video scrutiny. The high tackle on Jesse Kriel in the 27th minute had sealed his fate, plunging him into a pit of despair.

In a sport where there have been worse tackles, that were more intense and severe. However, when the phrase “a high degree of danger” is uttered, the outcome is nearly always predictable. Throughout the extensive chronicles of the Rugby World Cup final, it has never occurred that a player, let alone a captain of the All Blacks, has been sent off the field.

The unfolding of the dramatic and exhilarating events persisted as Siya was issued a yellow card merely five minutes into the second half due to his contact with Ardie Savea’s head. This incident served as a catalyst for the 14-man New Zealand team, igniting a spirited fightback.

The All Blacks had a disallowed try by scrum-half Aaron Smith because of a knock-on by Savea during the preceding play. However, they managed to score a valid try through Beauden Barrett just before the 60th minute, making the match more exciting. In the closing minutes, Jordie Barrett tried a long-range penalty but unfortunately, it didn’t go in.

The Springboks, led by the exceptional kicking of Handré Pollard and the impressive performance of Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was named World Player of the Year in 2019, have demonstrated their relentless determination. They have achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the second men’s team, following in the footsteps of New Zealand in 2015, to secure consecutive victories in the finals.

It was bound to be an electrifying match. These two nations, both deeply proud of their rugby union heritage, have been competing against each other for over a century. However, some games hold a special significance. The intensity of the occasion was evident in the passionate rendition of the national anthems by the South African players, as well as the focused determination in the eyes of the New Zealand team during their Haka performance.

The heavens, weeping ceaselessly, saturated the air with their mournful tears, amplifying the atmosphere with overwhelming intensity. The pre-game downpour would have made a fish feel right at home amidst the deluge.

In the context of New Zealand, the presence of a wet ball posed a potential disadvantage. Increased instances of ball spillage would consequently lead to a higher frequency of scrums. It is worth noting that the South African team, as evidenced by their performance against England, possesses a strong affinity for engaging in scrummaging.

In the given situation, the determination and resilience of Amabhokobhoko played a crucial role in their victory. It is important to mention that they managed to emerge victorious in all three of their elimination matches by a narrow margin, despite facing various challenges along the way.

One notable challenge was the unfortunate injury sustained by their hooker, Bongi Mbonambi, due to a forceful and twisting tackle by Shannon Frizell, which appeared less than ideal when viewed in slow motion. As a result, South Africa had to rely on the 37-year-old Deon Fourie as a replacement, which added to the already difficult personal circumstances faced by Mbonambi during that week.

What an incredible tournament it has been! While there were a few challenges along the way, such as matches that went on for longer than expected and some teams dominating the competition, the high-quality games were truly captivating and kept us on the edge of our seats.

And now we can celebrate the ultimate triumph in South Africa. On the other hand, the northern hemisphere has a significant challenge ahead if they want to match the success of just one World Cup victory in ten attempts.

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