As the Boks prepare to face the All Blacks in a rematch of the 1995 World Cup final, relive the glory of the day Francois Pienaar’s men beat the old foe to lift the Webb Ellis Cup on home soil.
Excluded from the first two tournaments, South Africa was awarded the right to host the 1995 World Cup less than three years after returning to international duty.
The Springboks were scheduled to play the world-champion Wallabies in the opener at Newlands knowing that victory would help them avoid England and the All Blacks in the early knockout stages.
After a dominant start from the defending champions, the Boks took control when Pieter Hendriks rounded David Campese for a try, before Joel Stransky added another five-pointer to seal a 27-18 victory.
A hard-fought 21-8 win against Romania followed for the Springboks, before the infamous “Battle of Boet Erasmus” against Canada in Port Elizabeth, where the Boks lost hooker James Dalton and winger Hendriks to bans after an enormous brawl between the two sides. Hendriks’ ban allowed South Africa to recall Chester Williams to the squad, after he had injured himself on the eve of the World Cup.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks swept aside Ireland, Wales and Japan (145-17, a record margin at the time) to take Pool C, England topped Pool B and France finished first in Pool D.
Williams made an immediate impact on his return to the tournament, scoring four tries in South Africa’s bruising 42-14 quarter-final victory over Western Samoa. The physical nature of the win nearly cost the Springboks their star fullback Andre Joubert, who had to undergo an operation on the broken hand he suffered in the match but remarkably recovered to play the rest of the tournament.
In the other quarter-finals, France claimed a 36-12 win against Ireland to set up a semi-final against the Boks, while New Zealand cruised past Scotland 48-30 to secure a last-four meeting against England, who needed a last-minute drop goal from flyhalf Rob Andrew to knock out Australia.
The semi-final between the Springboks and France came very close to being called off when torrential rain flooded Kings Park. Les Bleus would have progressed as they had a better disciplinary record than the Springboks, but the game went ahead after a 90-minute delay.
The Springboks held a 19-15 lead with three minutes to go in the semi-final, thanks to a try from Ruben Kruger and Stransky’s excellent goal-kicking. France thought they had the winner when flank Abdelatif Benazzi slid over the line, but referee Derek Bevan ruled he had been stopped short and the Boks held on to progress to the final
The All Blacks found things significantly easier in their semi-final, which turned into a one-man show as Jonah Lomu scored four tries, including famously steamrolling England’s Mike Catt.
All the talk before the Ellis Park final was about how the Springboks would stop the juggernaut wing. It took just 12 minutes for Lomu to break the Bok line, but scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen clung on and brought him down with a solid tackle around the ankles. That set the tone as the Springboks imposed themselves physically in a nail-biting final, which ended 9-9 after 80 minutes.
In the end, it was an extra-time drop goal from Stransky that secured a famous 15-12 victory for South Africa. Nelson Mandela, wearing a Bok No 6 jersey, presented captain Francois Pienaar with the trophy.
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