Previous critic of Springbok rugby, Mike Tindall, has changed his tone to heap praise on Jacques Nienaber’s men after they claimed the Rugby World Cup title.
The former England international has previously drawn the ire of Bok supporters, especially after their quarter-final victory over France.
Although the 45-year-old was not exactly enamoured by their style of rugby, the 2003 World Cup winner was hugely impressed by the Springboks’ mental fortitude.
Five teams in contention
“Their win is the greatest World Cup win ever because of how many teams could have won it. There were five genuine teams, and they had to beat pretty much all of them,” he told The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.
“Rugby World Cups are won by desire and a team that is together.
“There were so many stories within this tournament of where the teams could go, but what South Africa do is never let themselves down.
“They find a way of keeping in every single fight. If you don’t finish them off, they will come back.”
Following South Africa’s latest triumph in a global tournament – a performance which saw them lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time – observers are debating whether this current side are the best rugby team ever.
Tindall wouldn’t quite be drawn on that but has stated that the Springboks are, “the greatest World Cup team. They are built for World Cups.”
He then added: “(Former Bok captain) John Smit said to us the other day they weren’t supposed to win four years ago, but they did. They find a way. People will always argue whether it’s attractive. It’s not, but it’s about winning.
“The beauty of rugby is you can skin a cat in many ways. South Africa are unapologetically South African. They produce big men, and you have to do something to beat them. If you don’t do it, they will beat you.”
South Africa retained the Webb Ellis Cup after they defeated the All Blacks 12-11 in the showpiece event – their third successive one-point victory in the knockout stages.
New Zealand had their chances to win the match, even after Sam Cane’s red card, but they paid the price for their first-half display.
“I hoped New Zealand would come, play their game and find a way, and they didn’t; they played into their hands in the first half,” Tindall added.
“How they were only 12-6 behind at half-time, I have no clue.”