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The 2007 Rugby World Cup Final was a rugby union match, played on Saturday, 20 October 2007 at the Stade de Francemarker, Saint-Denis, Parismarker. The match determined the winner of the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the de facto world champions for the next four years. The participants in the 2007 final were England and South Africa, who had each won their semi-finals against France and Argentina respectively. The final was refereed by Irish referee Alain Rolland.

The two finalists had met earlier in the competition, during the pool stage, when South Africa won 36–0, so South Africa began the final as the only undefeated team left in the competition. Had England won the competition, they would have become not only the first nation to retain the Rugby World Cup, which they had won in 2003, but the only team to win a final after having lost a game at the pool stage. Winners South Africa became the second country to win two titles, following Australia, who won in 1991 and 1999.

The match itself was try-less with each team scoring only penalties, South Africa five — four by Percy Montgomery and one by François Steyn — and England two, both by Jonny Wilkinson. This gave South Africa a 15–6 victory. It also meant that of the five countries to have appeared in a Rugby World Cup final, South Africa is the only one that has not lost a final, and the only one not to have scored a try at the final stage. Each team did have one major try scoring opportunity; South Africa's came late in the first half, while England's came early in the second. England Mark Cueto was controversially denied a try in the 42nd minute after he was ruled to have put a foot in touch during a tackle by Danie Rossouw before grounding the ball. Later independent analysis showed this to be the correct decision.

Path to the final

Both England and South Africa were placed in Pool A along with Samoa, Tonga and the United States. England's first match was against the United States, who they beat 28–10. South Africa opened their campaign with a 59–7 victory over Samoa in which they scored seven tries; four of them by Bryan Habana. The two teams then met in their second match of the tournament. For the first time in their World Cup history, England were kept pointless as South Africa scored three tries to win 36–0. South Africa then rested several of their top players for their match against Tonga. Tonga came close to an upset but South Africa held on to win 30–25, guaranteeing the Springboks top position in the pool. England then played Samoa, winning 44–22, before facing Tonga in a virtual playoff match; whoever won the game would finish second in the pool behind South Africa. England eventually won 36–20, scoring four tries in the process.

England played Australia, who had finished top of Pool B, in their quarter-final. The match was a repeat of the 2003 World Cup final, with England coming out on top again, beating the Wallabies 12–10. All of England's points were scored by Jonny Wilkinson penalties. South Africa faced Fiji who had defeated Wales to finish as runners-up behind Australia in Pool B. South Africa scored five tries to two and won 37–20. England played hosts France in their semi-final. Despite having less possession and territory England won 14–9. South Africa faced Argentina and scored four tries to one to win 37–13.

Match summary

First half

The match was kicked off by England's Jonny Wilkinson, whose kick was collected by Schalk Burger, before the ball was kicked into touch by Butch James, giving England the first line-out throw of the game. However, South Africa stole the ball to win the first line-out of the match. In the sixth minute, Mathew Tait attempted to run the ball from inside England's 22-metre line, only to be tackled and penalised for not releasing the ball in the ruck. South Africa's Percy Montgomery successfully converted the penalty to give the Springboks a 3–0 lead.

An up-and-under kick from England resulted in South African JP Pietersen dropping the ball. England regained possession and passed the ball out to winger Paul Sackey, before South Africa were penalised for killing the ball. Wilkinson stepped up to convert the penalty and level the scores at 3–3 after ten minutes. After a lot of kicking from both sides, Butch James was tripped by England Lewis Moody as the South African was chasing a kick. Montgomery kicked the resulting penalty, to put the South Africans 6–3 up after 15 minutes. Two minutes later, England positioned themselves for an attempted drop-goal, but Wilkinson's attempt was left wanting as it drifted slightly wide.

After 21 minutes, England and captain Phil Vickery was penalised for being offside near the halfway line. The resulting penalty kick was taken by South Africa's Frans Steyn, but he missed the long-range effort. The match continued with large amounts of kicking from both sides until the 35th minute, when Steyn broke through the England line. South Africa managed to retain possession and eventually their , John Smit, went for the try-line but was held up two metres short. The ball was eventually knocked on by South Africa and England were awarded a five-metre scrum. The scrum had to be reset several times, but the Springbok forwards were finally able to wheel the scrum through 90 degrees to force the turnover. They won the scrum on their own feed and continued to press at England's goal line before England were penalised for killing the ball. A penalty was awarded, which Montgomery kicked to give South Africa a 9–3 half-time lead.

Second half

The second half was kicked off by South Africa's Butch James, and the ball was caught by England's Nick Easter. After stewards had dealt with a pitch invasion by infamous pitch invader Jimmy Jump, the ball was eventually received by Mathew Tait, who was able to break the South African defensive line, before being tackled metres short of the South African goal line. The ball was recycled and spread left to England winger Mark Cueto, who dove for the try line while being tackled by South African Danie Rossouw. Referee Alain Rolland deferred the decision to Australian Television Match Official Stuart Dickinson to determine whether Cueto was in touch before grounding the ball. After viewing the incident from numerous angles, Dickinson ruled that Cueto's foot was on the touchline before he grounded the ball and referee Rolland brought play back to an earlier penalty against Schalk Burger. Wilkinson converted the penalty to reduce South Africa's lead to 9–6 after 42 minutes.

In the 48th minute, Steyn made another break for South Africa and England flanker Martin Corry was penalised for playing the ball off his feet. Montgomery kicked the penalty to restore South Africa's six-point advantage. England penetrated South Africa's 22 in the 58th minute and their Andy Gomarsall chipped the ball ahead for Toby Flood to run on to. However, the kick was too deep and was shepherded over the dead ball line by Percy Montgomery. Unable to reach the ball, and trying to force an English five-metre scrum, Flood pushed Montgomery in the back as they both chased for the ball, sending Montgomery into the advertising boards. In his attempt to hurdle the boards, Montgomery collided with a television camera, but referee Rolland decided not to penalise Flood. Three minutes later, just inside England's half, the English were penalised for obstruction, and Steyn kicked a 49-metre penalty to extend South Africa's lead to 15–6.

In the 67th minute, South African captain John Smit was controversially penalised for a collision with Mark Cueto as Cueto chased his own kick. Wilkinson kicked the ball into touch in South Africa's 22 from his own half, but England lost their resulting line-out to give South Africa possession. Requiring at least two scores to overhaul South Africa's lead, England kept attacking, and Wilkinson attempted a long-range drop goal in the 71st minute but was unsuccessful.

England kept possession for long periods during the last ten minutes, but were unable to break through the South African defence. They were penalised in the 75th minute for holding on in the tackle, and South Africa continued to try to play the match in England territory. England then knocked the ball on in the 79th minute, giving South Africa a scrum. The South African forwards secured the ball, and as soon as the clock ticked over the 80-minute mark, the ball was kicked into touch. Referee Rolland then blew the final whistle, and South Africa had won their second World Cup title. This was also the second World Cup title for retiring Os du Randt, who was the last player from the Springboks' 1995 championship team still active. He joined five Australians who had been on the Wallabies' 1991 and 1999 championship teams as the only players to have won two World Cups.

Match details



ENGLAND:
FB 15 Jason Robinson
RW 14 Paul Sackey
OC 13 Mathew Tait
IC 12 Mike Catt
LW 11 Mark Cueto
FH 10 Jonny Wilkinson
SH 9 Andy Gomarsall
N8 8 Nick Easter
OF 7 Lewis Moody
BF 6 Martin Corry
RL 5 Ben Kay
LL 4 Simon Shaw
TP 3 Phil Vickery (c)
HK 2 Mark Regan
LP 1 Andrew Sheridan
Replacements:
HK 16 George Chuter
PR 17 Matt Stevens
N8 18 Lawrence Dallaglio
FL 19 Joe Worsley
SH 20 Peter Richards
FH 21 Toby Flood
CE 22 Dan Hipkiss
Coach:
Brian Ashton


SOUTH AFRICA:
FB 15 Percy Montgomery
RW 14 JP Pietersen
OC 13 Jaque Fourie
IC 12 François Steyn
LW 11 Bryan Habana
FH 10 Butch James
SH 9 Fourie du Preez
N8 8 Danie Rossouw
OF 7 Juan Smith
BF 6 Schalk Burger
RL 5 Victor Matfield
LL 4 Bakkies Botha
TP 3 CJ van der Linde
HK 2 John Smit (c)
LP 1 Os du Randt
Replacements:
HK 16 Bismarck du Plessis
PR 17 Jannie du Plessis
LK 18 Johannes Muller
FL 19 Wickus van Heerden
SH 20 Ruan Pienaar
FH 21 Andre Pretorius
CE 22 Wynand Olivier
Coach:
Jake White
Man of the Match:

Victor Matfield
(South Africa)



Touch judges:


Joël Jutge
(France)

Paul Honiss
(New Zealand)

Television match official:


Stuart Dickinson
(Australia)

Fourth official:


Alan Lewis
(Ireland)

Fifth official:


Steve Walsh
(New Zealand)


Statistics

England South Africa
Tries 0 0
Conversions 0 0
Penalties

(attempts)
2/2 5/6
Drop goals

(attempts)
0/2 0/0
Scrums

(won/lost)
5/1 9/0
Line-outs

(won/lost)
19/7 13/0
Turnovers 4 4
Tackles

(made/attempts)
77/88 81/97
Line breaks 1 1
Possession 55% 45%
Territory 57% 43%
Time in opp. 22 6' 48" 3' 22"
Errors

(hands/kicks/restart)
10 (10/0/0) 8 (6/2/0)
Possession kicked

(in play/touch/errors)
44 (34/10/0) 48 (28/18/2)
Pens conceded 7 5
Replacements 7 3
Yellow cards 0 0
Red cards 0 0


References





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