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England suffered heartbreak in their attempt to regain the Rugby World Cup as South Africa routed Eddie Jones’s side in a dominant performance to become world champions for the third time.
In a 32-12 result that continues the Southern Hemisphere’s grip on the sport into a fourth consecutive World Cup cycle, the Springboks showed the very best of both sides to their game, physically dominating England early on with power before killing them off through precision late on.
After so much talk of one-dimensional rugby, it was apt that their tries came from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, the two talented wings, who finally had the shackles removed as Rassie Erasmus deployed a game plan that completely caught England off-guard. With 22 points from the boot of fly-half Handre Pollard largely thanks to South Africa’s dominance in the scrum, England for the first time in Japan failed to lead the match at all, with four Owen Farrell penalties all they had to show for their efforts.
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Their run to the final has captured the imagination of the nation back home in what remains an incredible year of English sporting achievement, but there will not be any repeat of the cricketing heroics of the summer, and given what the sight of Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s first black captain, lifting the Webb Ellis Cup on his 50th appearance represents for his nation, it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t the real fairy tale story.
Heartbreak comes in many forms, particularly in the emotional pit that is a World Cup final, but Kyle Sinckler knocked unconscious and showing clear signs of concussion was sickening to see. Immediate concern for the England prop saw the game halted with not even three minutes on the clock, with a combination of trying to tackle Mapimpi and clashing accidentally with Maro Itoje doing the damage. It was more than relief when Sinckler arose to his feet some five minutes later, but his departure caused much bigger issues for England than immediately met the eye.
It meant Dan Cole had to go 78 minutes against a
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