The Springboks were equal measures of brilliance and brutality in a World Cup triumph that was about much more than just a game of rugby, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Stronger together! I’m staying!
In a country as complex as it is colourful, it’s such phrases that have shone a much-needed bright light on challenging times for South Africa. But then the Springboks go and claim their third World Cup title in a match of epic proportions.
How does one aptly sum up the scenes and emotion after Saturday’s 32-12 annihilation of England in the World Cup final?
And make no mistake, it was an annihilation. In the first half, in particular, the Boks brutalised and embarrassed the England pack. There surely hasn’t been another World Cup final where one side has so utterly dominated at scrum time.
The Bok pack and forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, take a bow.
Then there was the defence! From the outset, the Springboks left England looking as rattled as a passenger on an unguarded rollercoaster as defenders shot into the passing lanes and put doubt into the minds of the English playmakers.
We’d seen much of that before. Over the entirety of the World Cup, the Boks had relied heavily on their defence, forward pack and a strong kicking game.
Yet, on the grandest stage of them all, the Boks also offered something more. A lot more!
Maybe they knew that this final was about more than just a game of rugby, maybe they knew an entire country was behind them. That’s how inspired their performance was.
It was creative and innovative, too. When playing under advantage or when benefiting from front-foot ball, the Boks this time around opted not to kick, but to rather back their attack.
On this grand occasion, they were willing to send the ball wide when it was on. The interplay and skill that led to Makazole Mapimpi’s opening try – a historic first for the Boks in a final – should be played on repeat for years to come.
How about the creative midfield maul created from general play early in the second half? That piece of trick play eventually led to another key penalty that went the way of the Boks.
What a moment this is for the Springboks and South Africa as a country. Two years ago, such success was unfathomable, quite frankly.
Once again, the Boks are on top of the world. Kudos to Rassie and Siya, who have united a nation, and successfully negotiated a stunning road to redemption.
All hail the Springboks!
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images