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Mapimpi shines for Boks

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“This is a big achievement, not just for me but for people who come from a similar background. This is not only about me. I love playing rugby, and there is a lot more to come from this team.”

INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS: Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa on his way to score the Springboks first try during a Rugby World Cup final in the match against England at the International Stadium Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama on Saturday. Picture: EPA -EFE Mark R Cristino

Makazole Mapimpi will forever be remembered as the first Springbok to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final.

Prior to Saturday’s triumph, the South Africans had won two Webb Ellis Cup finals courtesy of Joel Stransky kicking all the points in the 1995 victory, and Percy Montgomery and Francois Steyn kicking the points in 2007.

In 2019, it looked like Handré Pollard would hog the points but then came a wonderful piece of interplay between Lukahnyo Am, Malcolm Marx and Mapimpi that resulted in a spectacular score for the Boks, their first in a World Cup final.

The TMO deliberated for a few seconds on the Marx pass to the left wing but then referee Jerome Garces awarded the try.

Incredibly, it was the 29-year-old’s 14th try in his 14th Test match, an unbelievable strike rate that would have Bryan Habana applauding.

“It was an unbelievable moment for me,” Mapimpi said.

“I got the ball from Malcolm. I saw that Lukhanyo was on my inside. I chipped the ball and he got the ball back. I saw that there was no-one in front of me. I chased up and he gave me the ball to score.”

It was a wonderful moment for a player who a year ago had been sent back to the Sharks by Rassie Erasmus to brush up in certain areas of his game, notably his defence, kicking game and aerial skills.

“I trained hard under instructions from (Bok assistant coach) Mzwandile Stick,” Mapimpi explained.

“That was an important part of my career and I have to credit coach Stick for his input.

“Thanks go to the coaches for helping me at this World Cup. Thanks to Willie le Roux and Lukhanyo. I owe a lot to my coaches and teammates,” Mapimpi added before pointing out that he has come a long way in a short period of time.

“I wasn’t thinking about the World Cup in 2015. I was playing for Border at that stage. I watched the tournament from my home in the Eastern Cape and admired players like Bryan Habana.

“I never thought the day would come where I would be standing here, let alone wearing this medal.

“This means so much to me as someone coming from the rural area in the Eastern Cape. I didn’t play Craven Week or SA Schools.

“Fortunately I had people who pushed me and suggested that I could be more.

“This is a big achievement, not just for me but for people who come from a similar background. This is not only about me. I love playing rugby, and there is a lot more to come from this team.”