June 16th, 2024

South Africa holds on to beat New Zealand 12-11 and win a record fourth Rugby World Cup title

By Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press on October 28, 2023.

South Africa's Handre Pollard kicks the ball during the Rugby World Cup final match between New Zealand and South Africa at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

PARIS (AP) – Defending champion South Africa kicked its way to a record fourth Rugby World Cup title by beating New Zealand 12-11 on Saturday after All Blacks captain Sam Cane was the first player to be red-carded in a final.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard scored all the points for a Springboks side which repeated its 1995 success over New Zealand and denied the All Blacks their own chance to win a fourth title in their record fifth final.

Cane was shown the red card for a high tackle on center Jesse Kriel. Three other players were sin-binned – two Springboks and one All Black – in a chaotic match.

Fullback Beauden Barrett scored the only try of the game in the left corner, setting up a tense last 20 minutes.

He became the first player to score in two World Cup finals and scored the first try conceded by South Africa in a final. But flyhalf Richie Mo’unga’s touchline conversion attempt went wide and ultimately preserved the winning margin.

Both sides finished with 14 players as left winger Cheslin Kolbe was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on. Center Jordie Barrett took the penalty shot from nearly 50 meters wide of the right post but it sailed wide with Kolbe holding his head in his hands, unable to watch.

Cane was sin-binned but referee Wayne Barnes pulled out the dreaded red after the punishment was upgraded late in the first half following a bunker review.

The All Blacks had already had a yellow card after three minutes to flanker Shannon Frizell. Springboks captain Siya Kolisi was sin-binned early in the second half, for another high tackle, evening the numbers with the score 12-6 to South Africa.

Saturday’s 106th showdown between the gigantic rivals was played on a wet field and pitted the two top-ranked sides.

Tennis stars Roger Federer, wearing a South Africa scarf, and Novak Djokovic were among the crowd of 80,065 who witnessed a gripping but scrappy game.

New Zealand scrumhalf Aaron Smith dived over in the left corner early in the second half but the try was ruled out. Mo’unga made a great break from midfield, dummied inside fullback Damian Willemse and fed Smith to dive over. But yet another TMO decision ruled out the try for a knock on in the buildup.

Kolisi’s card was not upgraded and he came back on moments later with 25 minutes left to play. New Zealand was on top and a brilliant improvised one-handed looping pass from Jordie Barrett found wing Mark Tele’a, and he slipped two tackles before feeding Beauden Barrett in the left corner.

It gave New Zealand hope, but in the end Kolisi became only the second skipper to lead a team to back-to-back World Cup victories after New Zealand great Richie McCaw.

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AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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