England were left heartbroken after they were soundly beaten by South Africa, 32-12, in the Rugby World Cup final in Japan. Siya Kolisi made history, becoming the first black captain to collect the Webb Ellis Cup.
In a game dominated by kicking, South Africa’s flyhalf scored 22 points. England couldn’t match their opponent’s physicality, repeatedly conceding penalties in the scrum after losing prop Kyle Sinckler to injury after three minutes.
As the game’s end drew near South Africa went on the attack, scoring three tries. The first from Mapimpi was the culmination of great team play that started when the winger chipped a kick behind England’s ragged defence. Diminutive winger Cheslin Kolbe shimmying away from England’s captain Owen Farrell to put a gloss on the deserved win.
England’s Maro Itoje, one of the standout players of the tournament, couldn’t hide his despondence when talking to reporters post game. “It is the most fun I have had in an England side so we are trying to draw positives out of the journey despite being very gutted we couldn’t get the job done.”
Itoje accepted his silver medal after the match but refused to have it placed around his neck.
His boss, England coach Eddie Jones was honest in his assessment, “We didn’t meet our goal of being best team in the world, but we are the second best team in the world and that is how we should be remembered,” he said.
The multi-racial nation that suffered through decades of Apartheid rule, made Kolisi their captain in 2017, the first black man to hold the role in the team’s 126-year history.