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South Africa were writ­ing one of the great sport­ing fairy­tales in 1995 by pro­gress­ing steadily through the tour­na­ment they were host­ing.

It did ap­pear, though, that the jour­ney was go­ing to come to an abrupt end in the semi­fi­nal when French No 8 Ab­del Be­nazzi surely slid over in the fi­nal minute of an epic strug­gle in out­ra­geously wet con­di­tions.

He’d caught a loose ball and then used his mo­men­tum to make it over with a hand­ful of Boks cling­ing to him.

If there had been ac­cess to a TMO, the try would have been awarded. But in­stead, ref­eree Derek Be­van had to go with what he saw and af­ter al­most no time at all to take stock, he said no try.

Be­nazzi, he said, had been held up. France were de­nied and South Africa were through. It was a mar­ginal call at best, and the sit­u­a­tion was made worse at the func­tion held af­ter the Boks had been crowned cham­pi­ons a week later.

“There were no true world cham­pi­ons in the 1987 and 1991 World Cups be­cause South Africa were not there,” South African rugby supremo Louis Luyt de­clared, prompt­ing a walk­out by the New Zealand, French and English play­ers.

Luyt then pro­voked an ex­o­dus of tour­na­ment of­fi­cials by try­ing to present a gold watch to Be­van whom he called the “most won­der­ful in the world”.

“It was some­thing I could have done with­out,” Be­van said later. “It could be mis­con­strued,” he said.

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