a return to the victorious fundamentals for South Africa

South Africans after their title, Saturday, November 2 in Yokohama. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

The content remains classic: beer to the brim. The container, a little less: a golden object in which to moisten his lips in turn. The Webb-Ellis Trophy is handed down from hand to hand. The third for South Africa, after those of 1995 and 2007. A victory in Japan, this time, Saturday, November 2, in the massive enclosure of Yokohama, against England (32-12).

Cameras abolish the intimacy of the cloakroom. Here, "Boks" in green cap. There, others in underwear in the colors of the nation "rainbow". Still others with pre-printed t-shirts to celebrate this third title.

Three finals played, three finals won. Like so many reminders, so many returns to fundamentals. It will be nice to spend hours on rugby, always faster, always more mobile, always more intense, a match, it is also won on impact. Old-fashioned, South African style: with strong muscling forwards, and a wrought iron defense, like that of the team in the green and gold jersey.

"To have freshness on impact : that's the point of having six fronts on the bench ", summed up Captain Siya Kolisi afterwards, in a press conference. The third line left the field shortly after the hour of play, to better come back and celebrate the victory.

Read also: South Africa chokes England and ties record of titles

The contribution of the "bomb squad"

In the team, the substitutes have a small nickname: the "bomb squad". A demining collective always ready to intervene. "We wanted to start strong and that's why some dislocated the shoulder on the first contacts. Our guys have been great today. " It was necessary for this match between the two most powerful teams of the tournament. Especially against this England victorious All Blacks in the semifinals. This England with two third lines wings pests, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, the "kamikaze kids".

After twenty-one minutes of play, already three players out on injury. One, English side: the pillar Kyle Sinckler (3e), after a percussion with his teammate Maro Itoje on a double tackle. Two then, at the "Boks": the hooker Bongi Mbonambi and the second line Lood De Jager, after a load on Mako Vunipola.

Read also: Relive the rugby world cup final

South Africans and their "bomb squad" resisted better. All over. In third row, with Siya Kolisi and Pieter Steph du Toit, and Duane Vermeulen in the center: "We had to be present in the rucks," recalls him.

The first line also held. A thought on this subject for Dan Cole: the express replacement of Sinckler had a complicated evening. And conceded to him alone four penalties.

The aesthetes may find something to complain about. Some criticisms to make. But can we blame these Springboks for playing like Springboks? "Rassie" Erasmus had announced it before the kickoff: this match was going to be won otherwise than "On an ambitious game plan and anthology essays", explained the coach.

So, Faf de Klerk played foot. Often, very often. As the South African scrum half (and the English club Sale, the rest of the time) can do. Small balloons in the air to advance his family, and back those in the face: game of winning ground elementary. It is in the old patterns of play, not the most seductive, not the most enterprising, that South Africa makes its best World Cups.

A game without glitter, but effective

"We are not going to change something that works", already reminded Handre Pollard in preamble, before being appointed man of the match. " Overall, both teams will stick to their principles. We are not going to release the disco ball and the flower shirts. " In fact, the future opener Montpellier played without glitter. His footwork did the rest: six penalties and two transformations scored for two failures, including one early in the game.

A precision, even two. These "Boks" still have wingers, not just any. Inspired players. Still able to bring speed late in the game, when the wear and tear is felt. First test of Makazole Mapimpi, at 66e minute: a kick to follow for Lukhayo Am, before a pass from the latter. Second try of Cheslin Kolbe, eight minutes later: a splendid number of the player of Toulouse, enchaining framing overflow (on Joe Marler) and hook (on Owen Farrell).

Read also: Cheslin Kolbe, small size and great asset of South Africa

Two tests to break the monotony like the opposing lines. Their two previous finals, the "Boks" had contested and won without registering one. Against the All Blacks in 1995, against England, already, in 2007.

"We trust our system", reminds Pollard. The player may have the responsibility for the offensive animation, he also evokes "The super stats" of his defense team as "One of (his) pride".

This return to fundamentals also responds to a certain urgency. The Erasmus coach took office in March 2018. It's little, to prepare for a World Cup. All the more so when it comes to restoring momentum to a group still undergoing historical defeats, for various reasons, in Italy (20-18) or in New Zealand (57-0). But Erasmus raised the glove … and changed his white shirt only in case of defeat. Its balance sheet for 2019: "This year, I only changed once! "


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