Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi says teammate Lukhanyo Am saw a clear try-scoring opportunity when he passed the ball in the buildup to the first try against England in the 2019 World Cup final.
With the Springboks only six points ahead in the second half and England on their way back, the duo combined excellently for Mapimpi to score the first try in the 2019 final – also the Springboks’ first-ever try in a World Cup final.
Mapimpi received the ball out wide and chipped it over the defence for Am to chase. While Am regathered effectively just a few metres from the tryline, he spotted an English defender coming across to cover so flicked the ball to his outside to put Mapimpi in to score.
In a review of the 2019 final with SuperSport, Mapimpi spoke about the moment.
‘I think that was a communication between me and Lukhanyo and Lukhanyo saw the space behind, so shouted I must chip,’ Mapimpi said. ‘He got the ball and then I was next to him and then he decided to pass the ball.
‘Honestly I didn’t expect it but it was a risk at the end of the day if Lukhanyo took the ball to the line because there was a guy who was coming from behind. So, I think he saw the opportunity, it’s going to be a clear one if he’s going to give me the ball.’
In an amusing moment after the try, Am went in to high five his teammate, but Mapimpi ran past him and left him hanging and then was embraced by the rest of their teammates.
‘I think everyone was asking the same question: why am I running away from him? Because he just passed the ball to me and I’m always trying to explain what’s going on,’ he added.
‘I was trying to celebrate because I’m that guy [who] always liked to celebrate. And I didn’t celebrate the whole World Cup. That was a final, so that time I was thinking about celebrating and the only thing going through my mind was that it was too early, let me stop, I don’t know what’s going on, what’s going to happen after this.’
Here’s that iconic moment again:
Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi