2023 Rugby World Cup Final: Siya Kolisi Aims for History in South Africa vs New Zealand Clash

2023 Rugby World Cup Final: Siya Kolisi Aims for History in South Africa vs New Zealand Clash

Joel Reyes
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
  • Siya Kolisi captained South Africa during their title run at the 2019 Rugby World Cup
  • He became the first Springboks captain to reach back-to-back Rugby World Cup Finals
  • He will look to match All Blacks captain Richie McCaw's feat of winning back-to-back RWC titles

History beckons for Siya Kolisi this coming Saturday.

A win by South Africa over New Zealand in the final will see him become just the second captain in Rugby World Cup history to capture back-to-back titles.

Sports Brief looks at how the Springboks have performed under Kolisi's captaincy in the 2019 and 2023 World Cup.

Siya Kolisi, South Africa, Springboks, Rugby World Cup, 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2023 Rugby World Cup, New Zealand, All Blacks, England
Siya Kolisi lifts the Webb Ellis Cup after South Africa beat England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final. Image: Adam Davy.
Source: Getty Images

Kolisi leads Boks to 2019 RWC title

Kolisi's first World Cup match as South Africa's captain didn't go according to plan, with the Springboks losing to New Zealand 23-13 in their opening pool game in 2019.

The pressure was on Kolisi and the Springboks to not lose another game in Pool B for them to advance to the quarter-finals.

South Africa bounced back in their next match, crushing Namibia 57-3 to earn their first win of the tournament. The Boks scored nine tries in the rout, one of which came from their captain Kolisi.

South Africa continued their winning ways in the match against Italy, recording a comprehensive 49-3 victory. The Springboks earned a bonus point after scoring seven tries against the Azzurri.

They booked a spot in the quarters after defeating Canada 66-7 in their final pool match. The Boks finished the pool stage in style, scoring 10 tries in the rout.

South Africa continued their excellent play in the knockout stage, beating Japan 26-3 in the quarter-finals.

Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries for the Springboks, who booked a semi-final clash with Wales.

That semis match proved to be a much tighter affair, with South Africa pulling off a narrow 19-16 victory.

Damian de Allende scored South Africa's only try, while Handre Pollard recorded four penalties and a conversion against the Welsh.

The Springboks saved their best performance for last as they dismantled England 32-12 in the final to win their third Rugby World Cup title.

Pollard starred for the Boks in this contest, kicking 22 of South Africa's 32 points. Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe sealed the victory for South Africa, each scoring a try in the second half, per The Guardian.

It was a momentous victory for Kolisi, who became the first black captain of a World Cup-winning side.

Kolisi 1 win away from history

Kolisi stayed on as captain of South Africa and was tasked to lead the Boks in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

South Africa started their title defence with an 18-3 victory over Scotland in Pool B. Pieter du Toit and Kurt-Lee Arendse each scored a try for the Boks in the second half.

The Springboks extended their winning streak in the World Cup to eight matches with a comprehensive 76-0 victory over Romania.

Mapimpi and Cobus Reinach each scored a hat-trick of tries for South Africa in the rout.

The Boks' unbeaten run in the World Cup came to an end in their following match against Ireland, losing 13-8 to the world's No. 1 ranked team.

South Africa's kick squad failed to deliver in the top-of-the-table clash, with flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk missing kicks that could have put 11 points on the board for the Boks, per the BBC.

South Africa ended their campaign in Pool B with a 49-18 win over Tonga.

Handre Pollard made a successful return to the Boks' lineup, converting the first four tries before being replaced in the 50th minute.

They also earned another bonus point after recording seven tries against Tonga.

South Africa's place in the knockout round was secured after Ireland beat Scotland on October 8.

The road to the final hasn't been easy for the Springboks, who recorded one-point wins over France and England in the quarters and semis to book a final clash against New Zealand.

South Africa came from behind in the quarter-finals to beat host nation France 29-28.

Eben Etzebeth swung the match in the Boks' favour, scoring a try with a powerful late surge in the 67th minute.

Pollard extended the Boks' lead to 29-25 with a penalty, but the French answered right back with a penalty from Thomas Ramos to cut the deficit to one point.

France had the ball with the clock in the red, but the Boks foiled their last-gasp attack to secure a return trip to the semis.

Many thought South Africa would have an easier time against England, the team they defeated by 20 points in the 2019 final.

They were dead wrong, as the English put up an incredible performance against the defending champions. Owen Farrell scored four penalties in the first half and an incredible drop goal in the 53rd minute to give England a 15-6 lead.

There's no quit with the Springboks, who recorded one of the greatest comebacks in Rugby World Cup history. They scored 10 unanswered points in the final 10 minutes to record a stunning 16-15 win.

South Africa trimmed the deficit to two points following a try by RG Snyman and a conversion by Pollard. The Boks completed the comeback in the 78th minute when Pollard made a penalty from 50 metres out.

The Boks' toughest test yet will come this Saturday against the All Blacks, with both teams desperate to win their fourth Rugby World Cup crown.

New Zealand vs. South Africa Preview

Sports Brief recently previewed the final between New Zealand and South Africa.

The All Blacks and the Springboks recorded contrasting victories in the semi-finals to set up a blockbuster final.

New Zealand have been installed as slight favourites over South Africa in the grand finale this weekend.

Joel Reyes photo
Joel Reyes
Joel Reyes is a sports editor at Sportsbrief.com with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines. He has eight years of work experience in sports writing.
Rugby World CupSouth African Rugby Union (SARU)Siya Kolisi