Rassie Erasmus outsmarted Eddie Jones and his Springboks outplayed England. It was emphatic, it was brutal and it was simply brilliant, writes Mark Keohane for IOL Sport
A nation celebrates today and they’ve been celebrating since after 1pm on Saturday.
I had called a Springboks World Cup win since the start of the tournament. I had the Boks to win the final by five points in my Independent Media preview. My argument was England, as magnificent as they were in dismantling the All Blacks in the semi-final, had not had a physical match at the World Cup.
The Springboks were prepped and primed after a monumental clash of the titans against Wales. The semi-final win over the Dragons was the culmination of one mass collision. I wrote in the week that England would not know what hit them when hit by Erasmus’s forward tanks.
And they didn’t.
Four first half scrum penalties conceded, two lineout balls lost in the opening spell and consistently smashed back in the tackle every time in the most compelling opening 20 minutes.
England reminded me of English heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua when he got hit by Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr. They didn’t have a clue. They lost prop Kyle Sinclair to concussion in the opening two minutes and played the rest of the match as if the entire team was concussed.
A week is an eternity in sport. The All Blacks experienced it. They were magnificent in demolishing Ireland and a week later were taken apart by the sheer menace of England.
Ditto, the final.
England simply couldn’t live with the intensity of the Springboks.
The players, each one of the 23, fronted in every aspect. They played the perfect Rugby World Cup final and Erasmus got one over the veteran Eddie Jones.
The midfield maul, post a lineout on 60 minutes, was an Erasmus special. The players won a penalty because it is impossible to defend a maul from unstructured lineout play. Erasmus proposed this tactic to the Bok leadership in the build-up to the 2011 World Cup final when he was the technical advisor. They refused to use it.
Now that he was the boss, it was inevitably going to be used at some point in the final.
The Boks were always ahead in this final. They were mentally the stronger, physically the more present and tactically the superior team.
I was the MC at the #BokTown in Cape Town’s Waterfront. Among my guests was 1995 World Cup winner James Dalton. The atmosphere was tremendous, the passion of the supporters was electrifying.
Dalton took to the microphone before kick-off and declared it would be a Springbok victory, produced by the most transformed national team in the history of Springbok rugby.
‘Our Springboks, led by Siya Kolisi, will today make a statement that will unify a nation, if only for a day, that politicians never will. They will win the World Cup.’
Dalton called it by six points. I had it by five and former Springbok Cornel Hendricks had Boks by eight.
The Boks had other ideas. They did it by 20 points.