1995 South Africa

2010-10-25 20:47
Springbok captain Francois Pienaar with then-president Nelson Mandela. (AP)

1995 was to become one of the most iconic sporting moments in history. Finally back in the international fold after nearly 40 years of isolation, South Africa hosted the World Cup, bringing for the first time, a major sporting event to its shores.

The tournament was contested by 16 different nations, and in total 32 matches were played. The competition began on May 25, when the hosts South Africa defeated Australia 27-18 at Newlands in Cape Town.

The tourney culminated with the final between South Africa and the All Blacks  at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on June 24. In total, the tournament ran for around one month. The nations were broken up into four pools of four, with each pool consisting of two teams that were automatically qualified and two that went through the qualifying tournaments.

The final was contested by the hosts, South Africa, and New Zealand. Both nations finished at the top of their respective pools, both 3-0 undefeated in the pool stages. South Africa defeated Western Samoa in the quarter finals, and then France in the semi-finals to reach the final; New Zealand defeated Scotland in the quarter-finals, and England in the semi-finals, a game in which Jonah Lomu famously scored four tries for the All Blacks. The final was played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and refereed by Ed Morrison of England.

South Africa led 9-6 at half time, and New Zealand levelled the scores at 9-all with a drop goal in the second half. Though Andrew Mehrtens almost kicked a late drop goal for the All Blacks, the score remained unchanged at full time, forcing the game into extra time. Both teams scored penalty goals in the first half of extra time, but it was Joel Stransky who landed a drop goal to win the final for South Africa.

What happened after the match would go on to become an iconic moment in the history of the sport. Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and baseball cap, presented the William Webb Ellis Cup to South African captain François Pienaar to the delight of the capacity crowd. The moment is thought by some to be one of the most famous finals of any sport. Mandela's presentation was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments on a British television programme.

Champions: South Africa, as Joel Stransky kicked the Springboks to a famous 15-12 victory in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Johannesburg.

Tournament Star
France's Thierry Lacroix who scored 112 points

Notable moments
Team victories aside, there was one man whose name alone set fear into the hearts of all players – All Black Jonah Lomu, who was an unknown appearing in his first ever World cup and went home with an amazing record of seven tries in five matches. His highlight was scoring 4 tries and bulldozing England off the park in their semi-final, particularly his literal stampede over the hapless England centre Mike Catt, who may just as well have not bothered trying to tackle the All Black giant.


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