Size, speed, strategy and conviction proved a potent cocktail as South Africa’s superb performance eventually snuffed out England and landed a third Rugby World Cup for the Springboks.
The fingerprints of intuitive defence coach Jacques Nienaber were all over it. Eddie Jones’ men could have few excuses. They would not have been particularly surprised by what hit them.
Their three-Test series against the same opponents last June provided plenty of clues. Yet England seemed powerless to stop a canny gameplan carried out by the team in green and gold.
A dejected Eddie Jones refused to commit his long-term future to England, stating “it’s hard to kick stones for four years” after Saturday’s World Cup final humbling against South Africa.
Jones said he was at a loss to explain why the team had crumbled 32-12, having been so imperious last weekend against New Zealand.
The 59 year-old is contracted with the Rugby Football Union until the summer of 2021 after avoiding a performance break clause, which would have come into effect had England failed to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
For England it was a chastening end to a campaign that had promised to end the 16-year wait for the World Cup glory.
They were out-muscled, out-run and out-thought by a team transformed by the leadership of skipper Kolisi and the coaching of Rassie Erasmus.
Never before has a team beaten in the group stages gone on to win the trophy, but this is a triumph to match that of the teams of Francois Pienaar and John Smit with a wider story that perhaps surpasses both.
By Africafrique and agencies