South Africa clinched a record fourth Rugby World Cup title by beating 14-man New Zealand to retain their crown in a helter-skelter final in Paris.
The tension was so high that the Webb Ellis Cup could have been squeezed and compressed into gold bullion. A flawed but compelling final that Cheslin Kolbe watched through his finger tips as South Africa, remarkably, became the first nation to be crowned champions four times.
It was maximum intensity. The rain poured and at times it felt like a rugby apocalypse of eviscerating physicality. A superheavyweight fight that went right to the death. It was beautifully ugly. Painfully compelling. Low scoring but high stakes, ending with 14 against 14 after a red card for Sam Cane and a yellow card for Kolbe.
There were riotous scenes of joy and relief in the South African corner as they held on with a desperate defensive stand. Pieter-Steph du Toit put in an incredible 28 tackles – most of which were so strong that they would reverberate through Paris.
The pre-match show was full of glitz and glamour. Dan Carter and Sophie Turner presented the trophy in a Louis Vuitton casket, before Mika took to the stage in a sparkling suit, almost smashing the windows with his falsetto notes. The action on the pitch could not have been anymore different. Grit and grunt. A total dogfight in the rain.