Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Rugby World Cup final: The moments that mattered

Winston Aldworth,
Publish Date
Sun, 29 Oct 2023, 2:48PM

Rugby World Cup final: The moments that mattered

Winston Aldworth,
Publish Date
Sun, 29 Oct 2023, 2:48PM

The All Blacks have been left ruing defeat after a close struggle in a tense, whistle-dominated Rugby World Cup final.

2nd minute: Frizzell sees yellow
Blindside flanker Shannon Frizzell puts a dumb and obvious roll on the leg of Bok hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi. The hooker’s knee is crocked and he’s out of the match, putting instant heat on South Africa’s vaunted Bomb Squad.

By the time Frizzell gets back on the field in the 13th minute, his team are 6-0 down.

14th minute: PSDT brings the PTSD
Bok monster Pieter-Steph du Toit puts a hit on Jordie Barrett that would have been felt all the way back in the ‘Naki. The All Blacks push on and secure their first points through the boot of Richie Mo’unga, but it’s a sign of the defensive tone the Springboks are bringing to the biggest stage.

Du Toit had already put two solid hits on poor wee Mo’unga and throughout the night was among the most immovable bricks in the Bokke wall. His 38th minute walloping of the same Barrett pretty much cuts the bloke in half (and he’s a big bloke), inducing a knock-on.

22nd minute: Referee alert
Fun for Wayne Barnes watchers! From the base of the scrum, Faf de Klerk spills the ball forward. It’s a dead-set knock on and referee Barnes is standing right there. Looking at the damn thing. The All Blacks should be awarded a scrum in a handy attacking position.

Fans at home are screaming at TV screens, wondering how the English whistler didn’t see it. As play continues, Barnes responds to a query from an All Black (or possibly having heard the screams from New Zealand lounges), saying he saw it and believed it went backwards.

It didn’t go backwards. But apparently there’s something in the rules that says the Television Match Official can’t get in the ref’s earpiece to tell him about a knock on. Fair enough, but let’s file that one away for later.

Two minutes later, replacement hooker Deon Fourie is off his feet - as in completely lying on the ground - and steals the ball in a ruck. It’s blatant and within kicking distance for a three-pointer. Mr Barnes, hello?

In the 36th minute, Eben Eztebeth is penalised for obstruction 10 yards out from his own line with the All Blacks backs hot on attack. On another day, that’s a yellow. Paging Mr Barnes?

These episodes might have been on Foster’s mind during a post-match interview when he was asked if he thought the All Blacks had the “rub of the green”. “Sadly in the first half we were pretty frustrated with a number of things that were happening,” Foster replied.

24th minute: Lineout battles
The All Blacks land a sweet attacking opportunity with a lineout on the Boks’ 22, but Etzebeth attacks the throw and steals it cleanly. It’s the only outright steal the Boks manage on the night, but they do a great job of disrupting All Blacks’ throws - Codie Taylor fluffs the throw again in the 25th and 26th minutes as well.

But as much as the All Blacks’ lineout struggles on its own ball, they do a good job at attacking the Boks’ throws. By fulltime, the All Blacks have stolen four off the Africans and messed up plenty of their action, too.

28th minute: Yellow for Cane
Another awful first for Ian Foster’s tenure: his side is the first to receive a red card in a World Cup final.

Of the 11 red cards the All Blacks have received in their history, seven have come with Foster as head coach. (Of the remaining four, he was assistant coach for two.)

The All Blacks skipper is way too upright as he goes into a tackle on Springbok centre Jesse Kriel. It’s a head-to-head clash and Barnes makes the right call, flashing the yellow.

While Cane is sitting on the naughty chair, the yellow is upgraded to red - again, it’s an understandable decision. Speaking after the match, Cane acknowledges the tackle technique was no good.

The All Blacks management can’t feel aggrieved about the Cane call, but they might wonder how serial yellow-card dodger Etzebeth went unbusted after piling elbow-first into Cane’s head in a tackle in the sixth minute.

Referee Wayne Barnes raises a red card to Sam Cane. Photo / Photosport

Referee Wayne Barnes raises a red card to Sam Cane. Photo / Photosport

41st minute: Kolisi blows it
Hot on attack, with support runners to burn, Siya Kolisi can’t find a way to set up a teammate after a break down the right-hand side. The All Blacks defence scrambles to neuter what would surely have been a decisive strike. The scoreline stands at 12-6.

45th minute: Kolisi walks
The Springboks captain is pinged for a head clash with Ardie Savea. To roars of approval from living rooms across Aotearoa, Barnes flashes the yellow card again, giving the All Blacks a chance to play with level playing numbers.

Unlike Cane’s, the yellow card is not upgraded to red. The mitigating factor seems to be that Kolisi was crouching and kept low.

Better technique, people.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi leaves the field after receiving a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes. Photo / Getty Images

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi leaves the field after receiving a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes. Photo / Getty Images

54th minute: Mo’unga magic
With Kolisi off the field, All Blacks stand-in skipper Ardie Savea chooses not to take two kickable penalty shots at goal, instead opting for lineouts. The Boks hold them out and send the men in black back up the park.

From another lineout, Barnes misses a little knock-on by Savea before the New Zealand backs finally open up some space. Mo’unga skins Damien de Allende to set up Aaron Smith for a beaut of a try.

A Boks player questions the ref and Barnes can be heard saying that he saw it and didn’t think it was a knock-on - the same as when an All Black questioned him about the de Klerk knock-on in the 22nd minute.

This time though, the TMO does call Barnes back. The try is scratched. So, just so we understand things, TMOs can wade in?

58th minute: Magic cutout pass
A massive, brave cut-out pass from Jordie Barrett leads to a dash down the left-hand side and brother Beauden dotting down. The conversion is missed, but at 12-11, the All Blacks are in it and have momentum.

Beauden Barrett scores the only try of the Rugby World Cup final. Photo / Getty Images

Beauden Barrett scores the only try of the Rugby World Cup final. Photo / Getty Images

66th minute: ABs hit the bench
The All Blacks have had the better of the third quarter. All the front rowers and - to howls of anguish from Otago - the halfbacks are swapped. Subbing Finlay Christie for Aaron Smith is among the last tactical rolls of the dice of the Foster era.

Damian McKenzie is out there in the 75th and has some lively touches. He has more minutes lined up in the years ahead.

75th minute: Defence wins the day
PSDT makes his 26th tackle of the match on - inevitably - Jordie Barrett. And it is - inevitably - an absolute monster hit, quelling a hopeful All Blacks breakout. The man is a freak. If the shoddy tackling technique of the All Blacks’ No 7 left his men one man down, PSDT has put in a shift that was worth two.

79th minute: Forcing the late pass
The busiest man of the Foster era, Savea has been superb throughout the All Blacks campaign and it’s no surprise to see him pop up with ball in hand wide on the left after McKenzie makes good ground on a kick return.

But as he hits the deck, the loosie forces a pass to Anton Lienert-Brown and knocks the ball on. Perhaps if he’d held the ball and set up a ruck, they could have moved into a midfield area and worked for a three-pointer.

Savea’s offloads have delivered magic before, but this one was a stretch too far. The Boks eat up the clock with one last questionable lineout and it’s game over.

Winston Aldworth is NZME’s Head of Sport and has been a journalist since 1999.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you