South Africa beat England 32-12 to become 2019 Rugby World Cup Champions. It was an excellent performance which featured a significant Munster influence running through the spine of the entire setup.
The Springboks dominated at the set-piece and kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout thanks to the boot of Handrè Pollard, who kicked 22 points.
In a pivotal moment for World Rugby’s biggest prize, the brilliant Lukhanyo Am gathered a bouncing ball to get his pass away to winger Makazole Mapimpi to cross the whitewash.
The talented speedster that is Cheslin Kobe would round off a comprehensive victory with a try of his own in the corner, ending any chances of an England victory in Toyko.
South Africa have continued the trend of completing Webb Ellis triumphs every 12 years, following World Cup victories in 1995 and 2007. In addition to that trend, they now have the distinction of becoming the first side to win a World Cup having lost a pool game en route, after meeting defeat in their opener to New Zealand.
Rewind three years and at Munster, Felix Jones (as Technical Coach), alongside Rassie Erasmus (Director of Rugby), Jacques Nienaber (Defence Coach) and Aled Walters (Head of Fitness) first met and all worked together during the 2016/17 season.
However, Munster and the World Rugby family were dealt a huge blow when then Head Coach Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley passed away in Paris in October 2016. What followed was a huge amount of Munster resilience in the face of such unexpected adversity, which almost culminated in a Pro 14 Championship, just falling short against an excellent Scarlets side at Aviva Stadium in May 2017.
From a South African perspective, Erasmus finally got his man in September 2019 when Jones joined the setup as a Defence Consultant ahead of the tournament in Japan, while Walters and Nienaber followed the Springboks Head Coach soon after his late 2017 departure from Limerick.
The Munster quartet would then reunite once again, this time on an international level, in an effort to provide the country of South Africa with a third Rugby World Cup trophy.
Last weekend’s achievement was a career-defining one for Head Coach Rassie Erasmus who made the big career decision in late 2017 which has now resulted in a huge reward for both himself and Springbok Rugby.
As for Felix Jones, it’s thought us that life comes at you fast, and you never truly know what’s around the corner. Having had his playing career cut short at the age of 28, Jones has flourished as a coach and now is the proud owner of a Rugby World Cup winners medal of his own.
Alongside Jones, Nienaber and Walters, who would have thought that those four former Munster colleagues, who formed a bond back in 2016 would be walking the pitch of the International Stadium in Yokohama last weekend with the Webb Ellis trophy in their hands. A feel-good story for any Munster fan, capping off another edition of World Rugby’s finest tournament.