SOUTH AFRICA 19-15 FRANCE, 1995
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.