Examining the situation more closely makes it clear how important Deon Fourie’s leadership was in the closing moments of the game.
The All Blacks went after a penalty in the set piece, which might have won them the match, with the Springboks needing to complete one last scrum to hang on for a one-point victory.
Before the scrum is formed, referee Wayne Barnes hears All Blacks captain Ardie Savea give him a “heads up” that New Zealand would be attempting to “go for it.”
Nevertheless, Fourie also made a significant move shortly afterward, approaching Barnes to talk. It was during this exchange that Fourie told the referee that he should also be prepared for the All Blacks with something humorous.
Along with suggesting that Barnes’ accuracy and the scrums had “been good all game,” he also offered a little extra “sweet talk.” Fourie also took a moment to smile and joke with the referee, which helped to soothe the tense atmosphere.
In the end, Faf de Klerk’s decision to use all of his expertise to refrain from feeding the ball into the scrum following an early surge was a fantastic example of crucial leadership and the tiny margins that can make a huge difference.
THE VICTORY MEANT THE WORLD TO FOURIE
Their 12–11 triumph over the All Blacks showed how much the win meant to Fourie, as evidenced by the expression on his face when the final whistle blew.
“Relief was the feeling you witnessed following the whistle. Winning by a single point over the past three weeks has caused tension. In the final moments, you realize that all you need to do to win and advance is retrieve the ball.
Two years ago, Fourie would never have dreamed he would be a world champion. Fourie was the oldest Springboks player to debut at the Rugby World Cup this year. He also told IOL this.
“You are smoking some weird stuff, because two years ago when I came back to South Africa, I would have laughed if you had told me that I would be standing here today with a World Cup winners medal.” However, I consider myself really fortunate and glad to be in this role.