Handre Pollard proved that form is temporary but that class is permanent. Appreciate this guy South Africa. Love him, respect him and thank him. Just hold him. The Springboks are world champions today and for the next four years because Handre Pollard did not miss a kick at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, writes Mark Keohane.
Pollard kicked four from four, just like he did against Tonga in the final Pool match. He never missed, just like he did in the quarter-final, semi-final and final.
Pieter-Steph du Toit made 28 tackles in the final, Deon Fourie played for 77 minutes as a hooker. This is a guy who is 37 years-old and has played most of his career as a flanker.
Pick them, the Bok heroes of Saturday night. You won’t be wrong. The Boks won 12-11 against a team who played 60 minutes with 14 players and against a team in which there was never approval for the captain and coach. Somehow they won, but they won because Pollard never missed and between them Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett the Kiwi duo missed. The latter two fluffed a conversion and a penalty in the final quarter. Pollard never missed.
The margins in the greatest contests are always as fine as ‘you hit and I miss’.
Our guy hit. New Zealand’s duo missed.
Respect for both teams. What a final.
Between them, they are the only winners of Rugby’s World Cup since 2007. South Africa and New Zealand have won the last five World Cups. John Smit led the Boks in 2007, in Paris, Richie McCaw was the master of the 2011 and 2015 World Cup triumphs for the All Blacks and in 2019 and 2023 Siya Kolisi wrapped his paws around that golden trophy.
The Boks have played in four finals and won four. The All Blacks have played in five and won three. The two they lost were against the Boks, in 1995 and in 2023. It took 28 years for these two nations to meet in a World Cup final and it was no less dramatic.
The Boks could not score a try, but with Pollard there they did not have to.
The All Blacks scored a try but this was a night they needed accuracy off the kicking tee.
Less than one point has separated these two teams since 2018, with the All Blacks winning five, the Boks winning f0ur and one draw in those 10 matches. The average score was 24.7 v 24 for the Boks. In the 11th game, the most significant because it was the World Cup final, the Boks won by a point. It was THAT close.
New Zealand is in mourning. They dislike referee Wayne Barnes again but as per my text to my New Zealander brother, Wayne Barnes did not miss the conversion and penalty.
Handre Pollard, however, did kick the four penalties.
Love this guy. Cuddle him and just appreciate him. He did the most unique double, alongside Steven Kitshoff and Du Toit: they won an under 20 and senior World Cup against the old foe, at home and on neutral turf and on both occasions, a decade apart, they were super stars.