Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

South Africa win Rugby World Cup after beating England 32-12 in final

Handre Pollard kicked six penalties and two conversions as Makazole Mapimpi scored the Springboks' first ever World Cup final try

South Africa pulled off a stunning win to claim their third Rugby World Cup title after the forwards laid the foundations for a 32-12 win in Yokohama by pulverising the England pack.

The Springbok front eight had the measure of their England counterparts in every department, dominating at the scum and forcing jitters in their opponents' lineout as they refused to let the pre-match favourites get a foothold in the game.

England contributed to their own downfall in a match littered with handling errors. Handre Pollard made them pay dearly, with the South Africa fly-half kicking six penalties and two conversions while wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe both touched down for second-half tries as the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time following previous triumphs in 2007 and 1995.

Owen Farrell kicked four penalties for England but they were chasing the match all evening due to South Africa's superb game management, set piece dominance, brutal defence and almost flawless place-kicking.

England's Eddie Jones, who was in charge of Australia when England won their only World Cup in 2003, becomes the first head coach to lose two finals.

The Springboks became the first team to lose a pool match at a World Cup and go on to win it, having gone down to the All Blacks in their tournament opener at the same Yokohama International Stadium.

South Africa's achievement is all the more remarkable as they were unable to play in the first two editions because of sporting sanctions in place because of the apartheid system.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus revealed belief in the squad had been steadily growing since they arrived in Japan that they could cause an upset.

"It’s weird, I didn’t think two years ago we could realistically do it, but six months ago began to and four weeks ago I really did. I am so proud of the players and my country. We stand together, we really believed it and I am proud to be South African," said Erasmus, who will now step down to resume his role as South Africa Rugby Union's director of rugby.

"The country have gone through some bad times, and we have over the last two years, but our challenge is to make South African rugby strong for the next six or seven years.

"I will make this my mission to make this a springboard to take it the right way."

England came into the match with huge expectations after the New Zealand win but were outplayed in all departments by the South Africans, just as the All Blacks were last week.

They suffered a huge blow when prop Kyle Sinckler went off with concussion in the third minute leaving their scrum all but uncompetitive against the Springbok pack with Sinckler's replacement Dan Cole given a torrid evening by Tendai Mtawarira.

South Africa made the most of the weakness, winning a string of scrum penalties and taking a 12-6 lead into half time whilst building a foundation.

Playing with far more ambition than in their semi-final win over Wales, South Africa scored their first try in a World Cup final at the third attempt, and it was worth the wait.

Lukhanyo Am, who has largely had to play second fiddle to centre partner Damian de Allende in Japan, gathered up a Mapimpi chip over the top before passing back to his winger to score his country's first try in a World Cup final.

Kolbe, who missed the semi-final against Wales with an ankle injury, then scored a scorching try with six minutes remaining to seal an epic South Africa performance.

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South Africa begin World Cup trophy celebrations

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"We just struggled to get in the game," said Jones, who worked as a consultant for the Springboks the last time they won the World Cup when they beat England 15-6 in Paris. "The effort from players was outstanding but we struggled to get on the front foot today.

"I can't fault the preparation of the players. They worked hard for the whole of the World Cup, played with a lot of passion, but just weren't good enough today."

The sight of Siya Kolisi, the first black player to captain the Springboks, lifting the trophy evoked memories of Nelson Mandela handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar while wearing a South Africa No 6 jersey the first time they won the trophy on home soil in 1995.

An emotional Kolisi devoted the Webb Ellis Cup to the people of South Africa and said he was so grateful for their support. "I really hope we've done that for South Africa. Just shows that we can pull together if we want to achieve something."

It was a fitting finale to what has been one of the best World Cups ever.

Updated: November 2, 2019 05:20 PM

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