Springboks Unite A Nation, Beating England 32-12 In Rugby World Cup Final
It felt like a stinker, but finally, the excitement came.
Just when you thought the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final in Yokohama was going to be one of those dour rugby matches decided by penalty goals, South Africa caught fire.
They scored an absolutely brilliant try to Mapimpi in the left corner after a kick. Then they scored again, an even slicker effort to Kolbe on the right. The tries, when they came, were absolute crackers. And in the end, South Africa ran out 32-12 winners, after the margin hovered around 6 for most of the match.
To be fair, this was a final South Africa deserved to win.
They dominated all the tough stuff early, and after just three minutes, England prop Kyle Sinckler -- who had been so good against the Wallabies as England eliminated Australia in the quarter finals of this tournament -- went off with concussion.
It was an accidental blow to the head but it was symbolic of South Africa's physical superiority.
England went into halftime down only 12-6. Given South Africa's first-half domination, England would have been happy with that.
But nothing much changed in the second half, and it was the Springboks who would rejoice.
"England came as the big game hunter, but it was the Lion that was savaged by the Springbok," Network 10 commentator Gordon Bray said, summing things up perfectly.
"We didn't start too well, probably had a disappointing first half. But I'm proud of this group and what we've done," England captain Owen Farrell said.
Then came some memorable words from the man who represents everything this South Africa team is all about -- the Rainbow Nation's first black rugby captain, Siya Kolisi.
"We faced a lot of challenges, but the people of South Africa got behind us," Kolisi said.
"A team like this... we come from different races, different backgrounds, but we came together.
"We can achieve anything if we work together as one."
Hearing him talk, it was impossible not to recall the unified spirit in South Africa after they won the 1995 World Cup on home soil as Nelson Mandela rejoiced.
"Since I have been alive, I have never seen South Africa like this," Kolisi, who was just a small child in 1995, said.
And then a word for the crowd, who went wild.
"Arigato gozaimasu, thank you."
At the 2015 World Cup, South Africa were humiliated when they lost a pool match to Japan in England. In 2019, they beat England in Japan. Sport, and emotions, just came full circle.
And in one of the most lovely gestures of a thoroughly enjoyable tournament, the man who captained Japan in that incredible upset in 2015, Michael Leitch, was one of the men who brought the Cup into the stadium.
South Africa 32
Tries: Mapimpi, Kolbe
Conversions: Pollard 2
Penalties: Pollard 6
Penalties: Farrell 4