In the next instalment of a series looking at our favourite World Cup memories, JON CARDINELLI recalls Danie Rossouw’s try-saving tackle on Mark Cueto in the 2007 final.
The Boks beat England 15-6 in Paris 13 years ago to win the World Cup for the second time. While the South Africans dominated for much of the contest, there was a moment where England threatened to take control.
Centre Mathew Tait broke the line and England eventually worked the ball wide for Cueto to score. Television replays, however, showed that Danie Rossouw had got across in the nick of time to force the England wing’s foot onto the touchline before he grounded the ball.
Did the call shape the outcome of the final? When you speak to the South Africans, they maintain that they would have bounced back after conceding a try, as they had the means to do so. England, however, feel that the call by TMO Stuart Dickinson ultimately cost them the match and title.
Indeed, when Cueto was interviewed last year before the 2019 decider between England and South Africa in Yokohama, he was still adamant that he’d scored in 2007.
‘Everyone takes the mick out of me when I say I still think it was a try, but I genuinely do,’ Cueto said. ‘There’s a million angles to suggest it was a try and there was one angle where it was 50-50. So in that case you’ve got to go with it.’
After the 2007 final, Dickinson said that his bosses and he had reviewed the decision and reiterated that the right call had been made to disallow the try.
‘Looking at the first replays it was clear that Mark Cueto had grounded the ball correctly and that his body was in play when he did so, which left the question of whether his toe had slid in as the only issue,’ said the Australian.
‘His foot runs into touch by about 25 to 30cm. Factually it is indisputable. If you know the decision is correct and people are still upset, well, there’s nothing you can do about that is there? Opinions are like bums, everyone’s got one.’
Who knows what may have transpired if Rossouw had been a second slower or a fraction less committed? Cueto may have slid in for the score and England, buoyed by a shift in momentum, may have gone on to win the game.
As it was, South Africa held their nerve and Rossouw was recognised as one of the heroes in the aftermath.
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