Springboks crowned world champions for a third time. Pollard kicks 22 points, Mapimpi and Kolbe add tries.
Every 12 years South Africa have an unerring habit of winning Rugby World Cups and they have done it again, following up their triumphs of 1995 and 2007 with another prodigious display of power and might. The image of Siya Kolisi, the first black captain to collect the Webb Ellis Cup, raising the trophy is set to become as treasured as any picture in Springbok history.
In truth they had a crestfallen England exactly where they wanted them long before two last quarter tries from the wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe settled a wincingly physical contest. Under massive scrum pressure and lacking the accuracy and front-foot dynamism that characterised their stunning semi-final win against New Zealand, there were only fleeting moments when England looked in with a chance of emulating Martin Johnson’s champions of 2003.
Eddie Jones’s side could have no complaints, even if the final margin was a touch lopsided. South Africa fully deserved to become only the second country after the All Blacks to win three World Cups and, propelled by a dominant pack and 22 points from their fly-half Handré Pollard, they now also have the distinction of being the first side to win a World Cup having lost a pool game en route.
Those predicting a comfortable English win were guilty of overlooking South Africa’s proud World Cup heritage. They had never previously fallen at the final hurdle or even conceded a try in either of their two previous finals, though neither triumph involved them registering a try themselves. None of their tight forwards looked in the mood to take a backward step and their bench was similarly locked and loaded.
It made for a predictably physical contest on a cool, windless evening and England made an inauspicious start. Inside the opening three minutes they gave away a ruck penalty which Pollard narrowly put wide before Kyle Sinckler collided with the elbow of Mapimpi and was knocked cold, necessitating a lengthy stoppage. He was eventually able to walk off the field having waved away the stretcher cart but there was no question of him returning to the fray.