Having no live rugby to broadcast Supersport decided to use the victories of the Springboks in 1995, 2007 and 2019 WC's. real rugby enthusiasts have seen those matches repeatedly - but when one views them together in sequence there is a really good option to look at the performances of the three teams involved and evaluate what really happened in the three finals.
This will be controversial - but the following is evident:-
With no live rugby available what did Supersport do over the weekend? They showed the three WC finals one by SA and that gives an opportunity to compare the three matches – which real rugby fans have seen a number of times anyway.
So lets look at various issues:-
The All Blacks – 1995 = The English - 2007 and 2019
The All Blacks was by some distance the best team in the world in 1995. They had Lomu as a permanent threat and they tried always to get the ball to him o cause chaos for the opposition. They thrashed England in the semi-finals with Lomu scoring 4 tries in the game. They were overwhelming favourites to win the Webb-Ellis Cup and deservedly so.
The 2003 English team started developing in a formidable unit in 1997-98 and in there were hig expectations that they would win the 1999 WC. However, they did not and the team continuing developing well to win the 2003 RWC. By 2007 the team core was well over 30 years of age and in decline as a unit and that was shown in the Round Robin matches when SA defeat them by a big margin. In essence a team who struggled to win in the round robin stage of the tournament and as lucky to get through to the final. This team can best be described as a team consisting largely of has beens and not expected to win anything,
The 2019 England team was a strong unit comparable to the English WC winning team of 2003. They thrashed all teams they meet in the Round Robin stage of the competitions and easily beat Australia and the formidable All Blacks in the play-offs. They came into the final as huge favourites to win the RWC. A well-finctioning and coached team.
The outstanding feature in the 1995 final was the fact that the Springboiks managed to curtail the influence on Lomu in the game. That called for solid defense by the Springboks and their defence was very good throughout the game and the highly-favored All Blacks was unable to score any tries. Deserve a rating of 8/10 for their effort in the relevant regard.
The problem in 2007 was that the defense of the Springboks were purely structured and haphazard. It happened throughout the series and was particularly noticeable in the Tonga and Fiji matches – and clear by one example in the final. The way Tait ran through the defense and nearly scored a try himself in the final was a typical example. Deserve a rating of 6,5/10 for heir effort.
Then we have the 2019 and the one expression of an English commentator was clear and precise – “there is just no way through” . The English team showed very little on attack – especially backline attack – because they were neutralized by defense. The classic 5 minutes when the English attacked all out ended with the English team never scoring try – with especially Malherbe, Vermeulen, Etzebeth, Pollard and Du Toit doing sterling work. The latter had a strong hand in disrupting the functioning of the English backline throughout the game. A rating of 9,5/10 for defense is justified.
In the 1995 final in general ball retention was acceptable and kicking was a huge part of the Springbok effort - even though some out-of hand kicking was ineffective and could be regarded as aimless since it did not result in pressure on the opposition, When they did pass the ball the ball skills were good enough and there were rare cases where the Springboks failed in the test. They did have a disallowed try because of a forward pass – but that was not a real and persistent problem. Rated at 8/10
In the 2007 final there was a serious problem. The ball-handling throughout the series was problematic and there were numerous knock-ons of balls and a number of turnovers by the English at breakdowns. There were at least three turnovers by the English at breakdowns . The out-of hand kicking game was problematic and represented numerous sources of counter-attacks by the English. Rated as 6/10
In the 2019 WC the Springboks passing was generally good – bar for Willie when joining the line. There were only one case where there was a breakdown possession turnover. In general – the out-of-hand kicking was exceptional and effective, Kicks had put the English constantly under pressure. Rated as 8,5/10
The forwards were very effective in 1995 and fought well in all phases of the game, Sollid in both scrums and line-outs. 8/10
In 2007 the same cannot be said of the Springboks. The Springboks in scrumming was average and in some cases not acceptable, They did not hold their own at breakdowns – while in line-outs Matfield managed to take two English throw-in line-outs, but the result was so poor that Du Preez could not handle the ball. On the whole rather very average with a rating of 6/10 being in evidence.
The 2019 WC was a classic of total forward dominance of the game in scrums and a breakdowns - where the highly-rated English team was demolished by the Springboks. If ever ia team deserve a 10/10 rating it is this one – but there were some individual efforts that nee ds to be borne in mind so a rating of 9,5/10 is appropriate.
As top overall ratings of the three Springboks teams is concerned the ratings are as follow:-
1995 Springbok team = 8/10
2007 Springbok team = 7/10
2019 Springbok team = 9/10
If I had the option of selecting a combined team from these three tests – the chances are that there will only be at most two 2007 players who will be candidates for the amalgamated team, namely Montgomery and Habana.