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‘I knew how he felt’: Siya Kolisi’s act of class after emotional World Cup final

By Finn Morton
Siya Kolisi and Cheslin Kolbe of South Africa pose with the Webb Ellis Cup during the South Africa Winners Portrait shoot after the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

When the full-time whistle sounded at Stade de France last month to bring an end to one of the most enthralling Rugby World Cup finals in history, Springboks captain Siya Kolisi ran over to an emotional teammate.

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Wing Cheslin Kolbe was in tears on that fateful night at the Parisian venue as the relief, jubilation and pride of the Springboks’ 12-11 win over the All Blacks began to sink in.

Kolbe had been sent to the sin bin inside the final 10 minutes of the Test, and with the opportunity to become world champions within reach once again, it left the Boks in a tough spot.

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The All Blacks had some genuine opportunities to win the decider, too, including a missed shot at goal from inside centre Jordie Barrett mere moments after Kolbe sat down in the sin bin.

But after what surely felt like an eternity, referee Wayne Barnes blew his whistle for full-time and South Africa had completed their historic quest for back-to-back titles.

Just as the wing was about to step back onto the field, Kolbe was embraced by now two-time World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi – probably the other Bok who could relate to how exactly Kolbe was feeling.

Kolisi had become the first Springbok to be shown a yellow card in a World Cup final earlier in that second half. It made for a tense finish, but at the end of the night, Kolisi, Kolbe and the Boks were the ones basking in the celebration of a historic fourth World Cup crown.

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“That’s why I ran back to him because I knew how he felt,” Kolisi told reporters in response to a RugbyPass question at last month’s World Rugby Awards in Paris. “I was panicking when I got a yellow card, but luckily they didn’t score.

“Then I came on and then they scored and then we got a yellow card.

“New Zealand, we knew with 14 men they can turn it up and we knew they would the second half.

“(But) I always had confidence in the team.”

While that World Cup final feels like a fairly long time ago now, the party is well and truly still in motion in the Rainbow Nation.

With his medal draped around his neck, Kolbe opened up about the “disappointing” intentional knock-on which saw the world-class wing sent to the sidelines.

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Receiving a yellow card in the World Cup Final is disappointing,” Kolbe told reporters in Cape Town.

“I was more disappointed because I let the whole nation down.

“I let my teammates down at the time.

“I firmly believe that was where God wanted me to be at that stage.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t hear the final whistle blow.

Match Summary

2
Penalty Goals
4
1
Tries
0
0
Conversions
0
0
Drop Goals
0
149
Carries
85
7
Line Breaks
4
19
Turnovers Lost
9
2
Turnovers Won
7

“One of the management staff came up to me and pulled me and that’s when I knew we won the World Cup and we were taking gold back to South Africa.

“It was a moment of complete relief.

“We know what it (the victory) does and how it unites our country and how important the victory would be for South Africa.

“It brings people together.

“I think that is what we need and hopefully we can continue with that and it doesn’t die out.”

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