A new generation of Springbok rugby has been ushered in and one that I believe will dominate for years to come, writes former Springbok hooker JAMES DALTON.
First off, as good as the Springboks looked celebrating with the Webb Ellis Cup, I can’t help but feel it would have looked equally wrong to see England in that position. In not even wearing their silver medals, the English side showed a lack of grace as embarrassing as their on-field performance.
One only needs to look to Siya Kolisi’s post-match interview that spoke so much more of the greater meaning of the victory than of any individual or team effort, to see that real world champions are humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
The English are not real world champions, and after beating New Zealand in the semi-finals, they thought they were. The media raved about England’s victory over New Zealand, England raved about their victory over New Zealand and Eddie Jones was smug as ever in the week leading up to the final.
The Springboks, in dismantling England on Saturday, put into perspective that maybe New Zealand just didn’t show up for the semis.
From the first minute of the game, I knew the right side would be winning and emphatically so. We destroyed them in the scrums, to the point where Mako Vunipola complained to the ref about scrum safety. If you’re too scared to scrum, leave the field.
Vunipola’s uncertainty encompasses an England side that on the day didn’t know what was being thrown at them. The Springboks dominated their traditional gameplan but executed, too, a beautiful display of expansive rugby in which they kicked 50% less than previously in the tournament. England couldn’t respond.
Funnily enough, before the third-place playoff, Wales coach Warren Gatland made a comment that he’d rather be at the pub than the game. And come the final, England would have been the team better off playing drinking games.
Hats off to Rassie, his management, the players and SA Rugby for building a team that is holistic in representation, plays brilliant rugby and inspires a nation.
In stark contrast to England’s lack of humility and general attitude to Saturday’s game, the Springboks quietly went about this whole tournament getting their preparation right and the results they wanted. Saturday was no fluke or random effort – Saturday was the expected ending to a two-year campaign that got the Springboks to the final.
Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, Nos 11 and 14, scored the first-ever Springbok World Cup final tries. One can only think that Chester Williams and James Small, the two who played such a role at the genesis of it all in 1995, are smiling down and ushering in a new generation of Springbok rugby, one who I believe will dominate for years to come.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images