The Springboks hooker was forced off with a knee injury after Shannon Frizell landed on his standing leg at the breakdown, earning the All Blacks player a yellow card. Referee Wayne Barnes took advice from his TMO before producing the card, which was then put to a review for a possible upgrade to red, based on whether Frizell’s action was deliberate.
The TMO kept the card at yellow, concluding Frizell was “not targeting the leg, he’s fallen on it”.
Mbonambi was replaced by part-time hooker Deon Fourie, exposing South Africa’s risky strategy of not opting for depth at the position. However, Mbonambi was officially replaced in a tactical capacity, opening the possibility of his return to action later in the match, despite his clear knee injury.
The incident had echoes of the final four years ago when Mbonambi lasted only 20 minutes before being replaced with injury.
New Zealand and South Africa are renewing rugby’s greatest rivalry as they clash for the second time in a World Cup final. With each team having lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy on three previous occasions, the winner at the Stade de France will be crowned the most successful nation in the tournament’s history.
The All Blacks entered the rematch of the 1995 final as marginal favourites having overwhelmed Argentina in the previous round without breaking sweat, while South Africa had been taken to the wire by England.
Later in the first half, All Blacks captain Sam Cane was sent off for a dangerous tackle on South African back Jesse Kriel, as the Springboks went into half-time with a 12-6 lead and a one-man advantage.
And although New Zealand came back in the second half through Beauden Barrett’s try, South Africa clung on to claim a historic fourth World Cup.