Rugby World Cup rewind: RWC 1995

World Rugby TV catches up with the star performers from past Rugby World Cup finals to hear their thoughts on how the Webb Ellis Cup was won and lost

LONDON, 17 Sept - We continue our series reliving the Rugby World Cup finals through the eyes of the main protagonists with a look back at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between hosts South Africa and New Zealand, whenFrancois Pienaar, Jonah Lomu amd Joel Stransky were key players, but the day belonged to president Nelson Mandela.

South Africa 15-12 New Zealand, Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 24 June 1995

The anticipation

“The atmosphere at the 1995 World Cup was nothing short of electric; it was an amazing place, it was the sense of anticipation of a country coming together, where two traditional rivals met in the final for the first time since South Africa became a democracy.” – Francois Pienaar, South Africa.

“I was either early out or late back into the changing room, so I was probably the only All Black that was out there, standing looking around the field as the big Jumbo jet went over with ‘Go Bokke’ written on the bottom of it. It was an electric atmosphere, and it was very exciting to be a part of it.” – Andrew Mehrtens, New Zealand.

Talk about being knocked for six …

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think that Nelson Mandela would pitch up at the final wearing the Springbok on his heart, and when he walked into our changing room to say good luck to us and he turned around and my number was on his back, it was an amazing feeling.” – Francois Pienaar, South Africa.

“I understood the impact of sport. Sport speaks a language that is understood by everybody throughout the world.” – Nelson Mandela.

“The pressure was all on us because they had Nelson Mandela on their side, and their country had finally been united, so it felt like we were 15 players playing against a couple of million people at that time and that was a huge difference.” – Jonah Lomu, New Zealand

Joel Stransky and Andrew Mehrtens went toe-to-toe in a kicking contest as a gripping contest unfolded ...

The final word: Springboks unite a nation
Francois Pienaar, Os du Randt, Andrew Mehrtens, Nelson Mandela, Jonah Lomu, Joel Stransky and Josh Kronfeld give their thoughts on the final at Ellis Park.

The match

“In the first half we had a good attack, but the ball came back really slowly and I dropped back in the pocket and I kicked it and it went over. It was just the matter of accumulating points in the final because if you keep the scoreboard ticking over you keep the opposition under pressure and you are always in with a shout. As the underdogs we needed to do that.” – Joel Stransky, South Africa.

“I’d scrummed a few times against Olo Brown and I believe that the only time I had the upper hand at scrum time was in the ’95 World Cup. It was only due to the fact that, as a side, we scrummed a lot. We were fit and we worked really well as a unit.” – Os du Randt, South Africa.

“At one stage we pushed them over the line and Ruben Kruger scored a try but (referee) Mr. (Ed) Morrison was unsighted and he didn’t give the try. If there had been a video referee, like these days, the try would have been awarded.” – Francois Pienaar, South Africa.

“I managed to hit one drop goal in regular time which was probably the occasion when I should have thrown it to Jonah who, I think, had a one-on-one and in those situations he’s normally pretty lethal. For whatever reason I didn’t hear him, it was pretty loud but I’m not trying to find excuses.” – Andrew Mehrtens, New Zealand.

“I thought that half way,,mmaybe two-thirds through that game, South Africa worked out how to deal with the Jonah factor and the speed we had out wide in terms of Jeff (Wilson) and Glen Osborne. They were shutting us down there. We just needed to adjust and go a little more orthodox and charge up the middle a bit more.” – Josh Kronfeld, New Zealand.

" If I look back, I would love to have kicked every ball as well I kicked that one"

South Africa's match-winner Joel Stransky

With the score locked at 9-9, the 1995 final became the first Rugby World Cup final decided in extra-time.

“Going into the extra-time there was a feeling that nothing could stop us now. We were fit, we were strong and we were almost peaking going into extra-time. With seven minutes to go, we had a scrum on the right-hand side, 15 metres from the touchline, and Francois called a back row move. I just saw where (Graeme) Bachop was lined up, he was really focused on Joost (van der Westhuizen) as Joost put the ball in, and Andrew Mehrtens was standing really wide. So I shouted to Joost to cancel the move and pass to me instead. It wasn’t a long kick, it was almost smack bang in front. Bachop actually tried to block the pass, which meant there was no pressure coming from the inside, and I just had this big channel to kick it through. If I look back, I would love to have kicked every ball as well I kicked that one.” – Joel Stransky, South Africa.

“I didn’t even contemplate Stransky kicking the goal straight off first phase; he kicked it straight of the scrum. You normally try to set up a couple of phases first, get yourself into the middle of the field and then look for the drop goal. I probably should have been a little more aware about that.” – Andrew Mehrtens, New Zealand.

Stransky may have had the final say with his sweetly struck drop goal taking the score to 15-12, but a new chapter in South Africa’s history had only just begun…

The final whistle

“When we stood up and took in the noise and the crowd that was around, what we saw was truly inspirational. It took quite a fair bit of the pain away.” Jonah Lomu, New Zealand.

“I dropped down to my knees just to say a quick prayer and before I realised it, everybody was around me. All the tension of the six weeks, everything that led to the final just came to the fore, it was very, very emotional. I was incredibly proud of the team, proud of that moment and very much proud to be a Springbok rugby player.” – Francois Pienaar, South Africa.

RNS sw