YOKOHAMA, 2 Nov - Siya Kolisi, the Springbok captain, raised the Webb Ellis Cup above his head after leading South Africa to a remarkably one-sided victory over England in a memorable final of Rugby World Cup 2019 at International Stadium Yokohama.
England started as favourites and they had their moments, but they were second best from the first whistle and could have no complaints about the result, which makes South Africa the first team to win the trophy after losing a game along the way.
That defeat came in their opening game against New Zealand, who were soundly beaten by England in the semi-finals. On Saturady, after five subsequent victories, South Africa started well and never allowed England to play the expansive rugby that overwhelmed the All Blacks.
After Handre Pollard had kicked South Africa into a good lead, the Boks finished off with two converted tries near the finish from flying wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe.
This was the Springboks' third Rugby World Cup final, and their third win - but those were their first tries in the sport's showpiece game.
Kolisi, his nation's first black captain who was playing his 50th test, watched as fly-half Pollard broke the South African record in a Rugby World Cup final with 22 points, and said: "The coach (Rassie Erasmus) said right at the start that the Springboks are more important than our personal cause. That was a change of mindset and we put our heart and soul into rugby.”
Kolisi paid tribute to the influence of Erasmus, pictured above with Frans Steyn, who was also a winner in 2007. Erasmus reminded the world’s media in the post-match press conference that his captain has endured times as a child when he had no shoes or food. "In South Africa, it (pressure) is not having a job, having a close relative who is murdered. Rugby should not create pressure, it should create hope. We have a privilege, not a burden.
"We decided we needed 20 weeks together to be competitive and it wasn’t a sacrifice it was an honour. It’s week 19 (now) and the 20th week is the trophy tour in South Africa. A lot of people thought we couldn’t make it but South Africans never give up and that makes us very proud.”
The Boks have waited 12 years between their three triumphs - 1995, 2007, also against England, and now 2019 - and once more their success was based on their physical game, which is why they have a replacements bench of six forwards and just two backs.
They won the scrum count 11-3 and Duane Vermeulen, who was influential in defence as well as attack, was Player of the Match.
Erasmus, who revealed he would have quit as head coach last year if the Springboks had not beaten New Zealand in Wellington in the Rugby Championship, believed his props were fresher coming into the final by sharing their workload better than the England front-row forwards who, he felt, had endured a much heavier campaign in terms of game time.
England offered no explanation for the scrum problems that were so costly in the first half, and Jones refused to discuss his future. “We are disappointed we are not the winners but there is always another day," he said.
"We are the second best team in the world and that is how we should be remembered. We got caught short today and why I am not sure. The only thing we will have is a few beers tonight and more tomorrow and maybe have to pull up stumps after that. These things happens in high-level rugby. We will be kicking stones for four years.”
Jones's men made the worst possible start when prop Kyle Sinckler was knocked out in the second minute in making a tackle, having made contact with team-mate Maro Itoje. Dan Cole was thrown into the fray much earlier than expected and he spent the next six minutes trying to repel repeated Springbok attacks that eventually yielded a penalty for Pollard, as the England defence held out under intense pressure.
England continued to make numerous unforced handling errors trying to be too expansive off poorly set-up possession, and the scrum was being put into reverse by strong Springbok pressure. When England finally stabilised a scrum, Billy and Mako Vunipola carried strongly and Owen Farrell was able to kick a penalty and tie the scores.
South Africa lost hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi to a head injury and also lock Lood de Jager to an arm injury, sending on Malcolm Marx at No.2 and second-row Franco Mostert as the game really started to take a toll on the players.
Another poor England scrum led to a Pollard penalty, after which England turned on the power and had their best few minutes of the first half - but South Africa repelled them and all England had was another penalty: 6-6.
England's frustration increased as side entry at a ruck handed Pollard a third penalty, and he kicked a fourth to end the half as the scrum was penalised yet again.
Farrell kicked four penalties in all to keep his team in touch - though he missed one at 15-9 - and they were within striking distance of the Springboks at 18-12. But in the 66th minute Mapimpi scored the decisive try down the left after clever inter-play with Lukhanyo Am.
Kolbe gave another example of his unique talent to score again on the other wing and launch South African celebrations at the stadium and all over South Africa. The Springboks were worthy winners.