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The Rugby World Cup reached its climax on Saturday night, with South Africa crowned as champions after beating Eddie Jones’ England 32-12 in Yokohama.
Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s first black rugby captain, led from the front as the Springboks landed a third world title following victories in 1995 and 2007.
It marked the conclusion of seven long weeks after proceedings kicked off on September 20 with Japan’s opening victory over Russia. Since then, the watching world has been treated to one thrilling match after another, numerous controversies and a slew of drama.
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The World Cup was making its first debut in Asia, with hosts Japan delivering a sporting spectacle that will long in the memory of all those fortunate enough to soak up the sights and sounds of this unique tournament.
With the competition now at an end, reportersJack de MenezesandSamuel Lovettlook back on those moments, teams and players who have delighted and disappointed along the way.
Best player of the tournament
Jack de Menezes: Maro Itoje
This was always going to be the tournament where Itoje could take the sport by storm, and he did exactly that in Japan with a string of phenomenal performances – not least in the monumental victory over the All Blacks.
The England lock was also their best player in the disappointing final defeat, proving their most consistent player across the tournament. His lineout calling has come on leaps and bounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the breakdown and maul and he is always found near the top of the tackling charts.
How he was left off the Player of the Year shortlist is beyond belief.
Samuel Lovett:Faf de Klerk
The box-kicking, sniping, free-rolling maestro has been a source of brilliance for the Springboks from day one. His ability to speed up or slow down the pace of play, dependent on South Africa’s game plan, was without parallel at this World Cup. De Klerk has been the beating heart to Rassie Erasmus’ side, while his eye for stealing precious metres brought an added attacking dimension to the team. South Africa would have been a very different, and arguably much weaker, side without the No 9 among their ranks. A world-class super star.
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