After surviving a storm in Paris to win a fierce and historic quarterfinal 29-28, South Africa dashed France’s dreams of winning their first World Cup. The Springboks’ experience against a French squad playing their first knockout game since coach Fabien Galthie took over four years ago made the difference in a match for the ages on Sunday. A thrilling first half finished in a vicious street battle. The Springboks came from behind to halt France’s 18-game winning streak at home and secure a spot in the semifinal against England, which will be a rematch of the 2019 final.
At Stade de France, both teams scored three tries in a thrilling opening period before a Thomas Ramos penalty gave the home team a slim lead at the break.
At Stade de France, both teams scored three tries in a thrilling opening period before a Thomas Ramos penalty gave the home team a slim lead at the break. In the second half, which was more attritional, Ramos scored three more points as France, inspired by their comeback talisman Antoine Dupont, sought to overtake the defending champions and win their first title. But before Handre Pollard’s enormous penalty from inside his own half proved to be pivotal, Etzebeth’s try reversed the deficit.
A Ramos penalty took France to within one point, setting up a thrilling finish at the same stadium where New Zealand and Ireland had only 24 hours earlier played out another last-eight thriller. When the ball leaked forward and Kurt-Lee Arendse gathered to pump it into the stands, the French challenge came to an end as the Boks celebrated. The French were encouraged on by their partisan home crowd as they attempted to keep the ball alive with the clock in the red.
France is Out
Before the first kick was made, many predicted that the tournament hosts would surpass their final loss from 2011 and bring the coveted Webb Ellis Cup to an end a glorious period of French rugby. Cyril Baille’s corner cross in the fourth minute rewarded France for their aggressive opening kick and desire to move the ball through Dupont swiftly. Prior to gaining the lead with a breakaway try from Damian De Allende, South Africa had France pinned back by Arendse. Peato Mauvaka was a persistent danger in the open field, and his try put the game back on even terms before Cheslin Kolbe spectacularly charged down Ramos’ conversion attempt.
When Kolbe caught Jesse Kriel’s superbly timed grubber kick, he switched from saving points to scoring them, leaving Damian Penaud in his wake and scoring South Africa’s third try. Before the Boks readied for a tap and went close to the line, the pendulum swung from side to side, resulting in Etzebeth’s strong charge over.
South Africa Display Class
With the All Blacks, South Africa shares the title of most successful team in World Cup history thanks to its three championships. Four years ago, Japan hosted the World Cup final, and eight of the starting XV played in the victory against England. That experience paid off in crucial moments. In order to prepare for the hostile environment in the French capital, South Africa had been practising with background noise, but they still wanted to make sure they fired their own guns. As the hosts struggled to gather the ball for Arendse’s initial try, the strategy to kick high and test the inexperienced French wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey was a resounding success. They will now be the heavy favorites to defeat England on Saturday and go to back-to-back World Cup finals.