Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is on the verge of history once again as he looks to emulate All Blacks legend Richie McCaw as a two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain.
Leading his team to a remarkable 29 – 28 victory against World Cup hosts France in one of the greatest matches in the tournament’s history. Kolisi and his team further cemented their credentials as title contenders.
If the Boks were to win again, it would signal a convincing shift away from the long-held belief that a team must remain undefeated throughout the tournament.
Losing first up to the All Blacks in 2019, the Boks would grow throughout the tournament before comprehensively beating England in the final.
Once again suffering a pool loss in this year’s tournament to Ireland, the Boks now look better for the experience and intensity of that test.
Thus, it was little surprise that they found a way to win when push came to shove in Paris.
As ever, when a match comes down to fine margins, the decisions by the match officials were under the microscope. This time, it was New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe’s turn to be examined.
In a match that was played at a tempo unlike any we have seen before. O’Keeffe and his team handled the challenge with aplomb.
However, the French were clearly disappointed with some of the decisions, with captain Antoine Dupont asking about the officiating.
“It’s hard to talk about things because there is a lot of disappointment and frustration,” Dupont said.
“There were a few clear things where the whistle wasn’t blown.
“I don’t want to be a bad loser and moan about the refereeing, but I’m not sure the level of refereeing was up to the level of the game today,” he concluded.
Naturally, Kolisi would be asked about these comments in the Boks press conference.
“It was an amazing game, it was tough, physically it flowed. The way the two teams played outshines everything else. It was an amazing atmosphere. The French team have been building for four years so we knew it would take something special for us to win this game,” Kolisi said.
“For a leader like Antoine to come back and play like he did, we give credit to him and France and all the French people who made this World Cup so special. When we heard the anthems, we knew how loud it was going to be. The people of France can be proud of their team.
“It was a one-point game. Things like the charge-down from Cheslin [Kolbe], you don’t see that every day. It was going to take something special for us to win. The French team and Antoine can hold their heads up high.”
Once again Kolisi has proven just why he is universal admired by fans and opponents the world over.