On Saturday, Oct. 28, the South African Springboks National Rugby Team defeated the New Zeland All Blacks National Rugby Team 12-11 to win their fourth World Cup and their first since 2019 and becoming the first country to win four World Cups as well as just the second team to win back-to-back titles after New Zealand did it themselves in 2011 and 2015.
South Africa, led by Inside-Centre Handré Pollard, opened group stages as the second position handily behind Scotland, with an 18-3 victory over Scotland, with the Springboks scoring two tries to Scotland’s zero while also converting one conversion. Scotland’s only points were scored on a penalty, though South Africa scored two.
In rugby, a try, also known as a touchdown, is when you run the ball in and touch the ball down, which is worth five points. After scoring a try, a team can attempt to score a conversion by kicking the ball through the crossbar, similar to a field goal in American football, though it is worth two points instead of one. If a team is called for a penalty when within 45 yards of the goal point, the team can try a penalty kick for three points by either place-kicking or drop-kicking the ball.
Following their victory against Scotland, South Africa had no issue with Romania winning-handedly 76-0. Just 10 minutes in, the Springboks led 26-0, scoring 11 of 12 tries in the game led by Cobus Reinach with two. Along with this, they went 7-11 on conversion kicks. Romania was the only team to attempt a penalty kick, which they missed.
After beating Romania, South Africa faltered against Ireland 13-8. Ireland’s wing Mack Hansen scored the first touchdown that South Africa gave up the entire tournament, and Ireland could hold onto the narrow victory. Following their first and only loss, the Springboks responded handily, defeating the Tonga National Rugby Team 49-18 to enter the knockout stage.
In the first round of the knockout stage, South Africa faced the host country, France. France led 25-19 after two penalty kicks, but Eben Etzebeth scored a try, and with the teams trading penalty kicks, the Springboks survived 29-28 and advanced to the semi-finals to face a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final against England.
In the semi-finals, the Springboks found themselves in a tight game once more. England scored all their points on penalty kicks and be up 12-6 at halftime. In the second half, Owen Farrell scored on a dropkick, making it 15-6 for England. However, South Africa came back with RG Snyman scoring a try at the 68:45 mark, and with a conversion, the Springboks only trailed by two and with a penalty kick at the 77:22 mark, South Africa won 16-15, advancing them back to the championship to face New Zealand.
In the championship, South Africa took the lead at the beginning of the game and never relinquished it as they made four penalty kicks and though they gave up a try to Beauden Barrett. However, New Zealand’s conversion went right, and South Africa held onto the win 12-11, breaking New Zealand’s record for the most World Cups in the process with four.
While the South African offense was one of the best in the World Cup, their defense proved even better. The defense alone had 974 team tackles, 100 tackles more than anyone else in the Cup, and only surrendered one try the entire World Cup.
The next men’s Rugby World Cup will be held in 2027, with Australia being the host country. The women’s Rugby World Cup will be held in 2025, with England being the host country.