Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of one of the most dramatic matches of all time, the 1995 World Cup final. Throwback Thursday relives some of the crucial moments of that unforgettable clash.
In a dream match-up, hosts South Africa won their way through to take on New Zealand, who had destroyed their opposition throughout the tournament as a rampaging Jonah Lomu announced himself as arguably the biggest superstar the code has ever known.
The showdown was shrouded in mystery and controversy, with several All Blacks suffering food poisoning in the lead-up – a source of allegations and conspiracy theories in the two decades since.
Unlike the All Blacks’ free-flowing victories on their way to the final, the Johannesburg decider was a gruelling, gripping, try-less affair. Lomu was superbly contained by the Springboks, most famously in this tackle by centre Japie Mulder after the giant winger found himself in space for one of the rare times in the match.
The scores were locked at 9-all after a try-less 80 minutes, sending the final into extra-time. Rival No.10s Andrew Mehrtens and Joel Stransky traded penalties during the first period of extra-time, before Stransky landed the decisive drop goal in the 93rd minute. The Springboks held on for a tense triumph amid phenomenal scenes at Ellis Park.
The tournament was set against the backdrop of South Africa’s tentative first years after the fall of apartheid, and president Nelson Mandela’s presentation of the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar – while wearing a Springboks jersey – became as iconic as any moment in the match and arguably as symbolic as any moment in sporting history.