Handre Pollard (29 years old, 1.88, 96 kilos) was not called up by South Africa for the Rugby World Cup but has arrived in time to push them to the final. In the last breath of the semi-final he scored a hard kick almost from the center of the field. Although he is a regular among los Springboks Since his debut in 2014, a calf injury almost left him out of the national team. He continued fine-tuning his setup, in advance warning in case there were casualties. When the heeler Malcolm Marx was injured, the flyhalf got the call.
This Saturday, in the World Cup final in France (New Zealand – South Africa, 9:00 p.m., Movistar+), Pollard aspires to step onto the Olympus of unexpected, unpunctual, last-minute heroes. The most illustrious member is another opener, the New Zealander Stephen Donald. Due to a tactical decision and without being highly appreciated by the fans, he was left off the list of los All Blacks for the 2011 World Cup. Two injuries forced him to resort to him when he was fishing on vacation. He started the final as a substitute but the starter also went down. Among so many bad mistakes, his foot scored the decisive shot. He went down to posterity in a small T-shirt because there was no one in his size. They even made a movie of it, The Kick (La Patada), a story of redemption.
If Pollard has arrived late to this World Cup in France, the current New Zealand flyhalf, Richie Mounga (29 years old, 1.79, 85 kilos), has settled late in his selection. He debuted in 2018 and for years has competed for the 10 with McKenzie and Beauden Barrett, both in the call for this Saturday. Only in recent times has Richie taken over the direction of the attack of the three-quarter line. To do this, the coach has moved Beauden Barrett to 15. In reality, Mounga will be surrounded by the Barretts: Scott on the second row, Jordie at 12 and Beauden with 15. “Sometimes I wish I were one of them,” he said. Mounga said about the three white Barretts of the All Blacks.
By age, they were not older than two yearsneither Pollard nor Mounga remember the most relevant South Africa – New Zealand of a rivalry that is 102 years old and 105 games old. The 1995 World Cup final, the only one in which they had met until now. The one of Mandela who, with the green and gold polo shirt, conveyed to his country that the rugby team was no longer a redoubt of the whites. The local triumph -immortalized in Invictus– about New Zealand The role In a match with extra time and without rehearsals, he has covered up a black legend. In the days before, most of los All Blacks They suffered poisoning attributed to a mysterious waitress named Suzie. The episode was never clarified.
So this final represents a revenge for the past and, at the same time, the fight for hegemony between the only two three-time world champions. After the vibrant quarterfinal match against Ireland, the New Zealanders dispatched Argentina in the semifinals with overwhelming superiority. The South Africans have trailed many minutes on the scoreboard, in the quarterfinals against France and in the semifinals against England. In suffering they have survived; as if they felt at ease there. Both have only conceded seven tries and have won by holding on in defense until the attacker’s exhaustion.