The New Zealand press bitterly called out South Africa for their perceived gamesmanship during the Rugby World Cup final.
An NZ Herald headline bemoaned “Well done to South Africa, the best at not playing rugby” and encapsulated the mood among the country’s media.
In the piece, columnist Paul Lewis observes: “Firstly: South Africa won it fair and square.Secondly: South Africa are better at not playing rugby than the All Blacks are at playing rugby.Thirdly: the sport of rugby must lift itself out of this miserable morass of complicated rules which lead to a band of officials becoming the key influence, not the players or the actual play.”
The piece continues: “As South Africa have consistently shown, it is often better to play without the ball rather than to run and pass it. How sad is that? How ridiculous?
“The All Blacks chose to employ their usual attacking, ball-in-hand strategy, even down to 14 men, and still could have won it had that long Jordie Barrett penalty attempt gone over, as it would have on a different day. But the percentages won. Again.
“In fact, this was the only one of the Boks’ four World Cup finals in which a try was scored against them – and they have only once (2019) scored a try in the final themselves. Says a lot, doesn’t it?”