November 2, 2019 / 12:17 PM / 19 days ago

Representing entire Rainbow Nation inspired us, says Springbok Vermeulen

YOKOHAMA (Reuters) - Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus underlined the importance of the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday by reminding his players before kick-off that they were not just playing for themselves but for the entire Rainbow Nation.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Final - England v South Africa - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - November 2, 2019 England's Ben Youngs kicks as South Africa's Duane Vermeulen attempts to block REUTERS/Edgar Su

South Africa duly clinched their third World Cup title with a crushing 32-12 victory over England at Yokohama Stadium and man-of-the-match Duane Vermeulen said the players had kept that inspirational thought in mind throughout.

Vermeulen, part of an impressive loose forward trio that included captain Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit, said: “We were doing it for each other but also for 57 million people back home in South Africa.

“We wanted to be consistent as a team. We wanted to create hope in the end and hopefully we achieved that tonight.”

The Springboks were ruthless from the outset against Eddie Jones’s side, although they were not as one-dimensional as they had been in reaching the final, with their backline attempting to stretch England across the park.

They initially built pressure via Handre Pollard’s boot as they established an 18-12 lead with about 15 minutes remaining before tries from wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe put the result beyond doubt.

“We didn’t start well,” England captain Owen Farrell said. “We probably had a disappointing first half... we showed the fight we had in the second half.”

Jones, who helped South Africa win their last World Cup in 2007 against England, said that his side had been unable to get into the game against an aggressive Springboks side.

“We just struggled to get in the game. The effort from players was outstanding but they struggled to get on the front foot,” Jones said.

“I can’t fault the preparation of the players. They worked hard the whole World Cup and played with a lot of passion, but just weren’t good enough.

“Congratulations to South Africa.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Tony Lawrence

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