Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images.
South Africa Secures 2023 Rugby World Cup Victory with Gritty Win Over New Zealand
The reigning champions secured a 12-11 victory by relying on their kicking game after All Blacks captain Sam Cane made history as the first player to receive a red card in a final.
In a thrilling showdown at the Stade de France, South Africa triumphed in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, defeating New Zealand 12-11 in a hard-fought battle. The match took an intense turn early on as New Zealand's captain, Sam Cane, received a red card following a bunker review of his initial yellow card for a high tackle.
Handre Pollard's precise kicking game proved pivotal for South Africa, securing their victory, despite a late try from Beauden Barrett of New Zealand. This remarkable defensive display by South Africa marked their fourth Webb Ellis Cup win, setting a new record.
The game was marred by a crackdown on foul play, with a total of four yellow cards shown throughout the match, a stark contrast to the history of only one yellow card in nine previous World Cup finals. The intense encounter unfolded before a crowd of 80,065 fans at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Sam Cane's early red card put New Zealand at a disadvantage, but they continued to employ their aggressive ball-running strategy, managing to score the match's only try courtesy of Beauden Barrett.
Under tremendous pressure in the final quarter, South Africa held firm, with Pieter-Steph du Toit leading the defensive charge. Handre Pollard's four first-half penalties proved to be the winning margin, adding another title to South Africa's previous victories in 1995, 2007, and 2019.
This victory marked the fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup title for a southern hemisphere team. Siya Kolisi joined the elite group of captains to lift the Webb Ellis Cup twice, following in the footsteps of All Black Richie McCaw.
An emotional Kolisi shared his thoughts on the intense final, stating, "There are no ways I can explain it. The All Blacks took us to the end, they took us to a dark place. Credit to my boys too for the fight. I am just grateful we could pull it off."
South Africa's win in Paris established them as the first men's team to claim the Rugby World Cup four times and only the second team to successfully defend their title from the previous tournament. Handre Pollard, whose inclusion in the squad raised questions at the outset, emerged as a key player with a series of match-winning performances.
Pollard, who joined the South African squad on September 18 to replace the injured Malcolm Marx, played an invaluable role throughout the tournament, ultimately becoming a wise choice for inclusion. South Africa maintained their perfect record in Rugby World Cup finals, having won all four of their appearances, and they remain the sole team to have defeated the All Blacks at this stage.
Player of the match Pieter-Steph du Toit, from South Africa, delivered a dominant performance, making 28 tackles, the highest of any player in the match, with an 88% success rate. His defensive prowess played a vital role in securing South Africa's victory. Handre Pollard also earned praise for scoring all of South Africa's points and effectively controlling the match.
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