​Roger Federer cheers South Africa on to historic Rugby World Cup final win

Roger Federer South Africa Rugby World Cup Final

Roger Federer celebrated in the stands as South Africa won the Rugby World Cup

Richard Jeffries

By Richard Jeffries

Published: 28/10/2023

- 23:15

Updated: 28/10/2023

- 23:20

Tennis legend celebrates as Springboks defeat New Zealand in thrilling contest in Paris

Roger Federer punched the air in the stands as South Africa made history by becoming the first team to win the Rugby World Cup four times.

They secured nail-biting 12-11 victory as New Zealand captain Sam Cane became the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final.

And the tennis legend, wearing a Springboks rugby shirt and scarf, was clearly delighted as the holders retained the trophy in Paris.

Federer, 42, was with his wife Mirka and their four children - who were wearing matching green outfits - at the at Stade de France.

Basel-born Federer, who won 103 singles titles, including 20 majors, has dual Swiss and South African citizenship.

His mother Lynette is South African and she met his father Robert, a Swiss-German pharmaceutical executive, while he was on a business trip to the country.

Federer is a huge Springboks fan and has sent private messages to the team before major games in the past, including at the last World Cup.

He has spent a lot of time in South Africa, both on family holidays and more recently for his charitable work.

Federer clapped wildly and cheered as South Africa closed out the match, winning their third game in succession by a single point after equally narrow victories against France and England.

The victory means South Africa are the most successful nation in men’s World Cup history with their fourth crown nudging them clear of the All Blacks.

And it came despite one of their worst fears materialising in the third minute when Mbongeni Mbonambi – the only specialist hooker in their matchday 23 – was injured by a dangerous clear out by Shannon Frizell.

Roger Federer South African rugby fan

Roger Federer was proudly wearing a South Africa rugby shirt and scarf


Mbonambi departed and on came Deon Fourie, a 37-year-old who has played most of his rugby in the back row.

Referee Wayne Barnes confirmed shortly after that Mbonambi’s departure was tactical only.

Pollard rifled over successive penalties to reward mounting Springboks pressure but, having been shown a yellow card, Frizell survived the bunker review of his offending crocodile roll.

There was no let up in tension on a night dominated by two ferocious defences and the scoreboard continued to tick over when Mo’unga and Pollard took successful shots at goal.

The World Cup’s most ruthless attack was making little headway against its meanest defence and twice New Zealand were turned over as an error-strewn spell was compounded with an overthrown line-out.

Roger Federer World Cup Final South Africa

Roger Federer clapped wildly in the stands as South Africa made sporting history


Cane was the next All Black into the sin-bin for his high tackle on Kriel and South Africa continued to win every meaningful moment of the contest.

And it got worse for New Zealand as, just moments before Pollard landed his fourth penalty, Cane’s yellow card was upgraded to red by the bunker.

South Africa came under furious attack in response but with Eben Etzebeth cynically returning to an onside position while interfering with play, they only conceded three points to Mo’unga.

Next into the sin bin was Siya Kolisi for a challenge on Savea that resulted in a clash of heads and the All Blacks appeared to have exploited his absence by scoring through Aaron Smith only for an earlier knock-on to be spotted.

Upon Kolisi’s return they succeeded, however, when Mark Telea ran a mazy line and after he dropped the ball a superb pick up by Barrett allowed the full-back to touch down.

Mo’unga missed the conversion so Zealand trailed by a point and there was no let up in drama as the final quarter ebbed and flowed.

Roger Federer South Africa rugby supporter

Roger Federer's beloved South Africa triumphed against the All Blacks in Paris


Wing Cheslin Kolbe became the third yellow card but Jordie Barrett was wide with the penalty attempt and, in the face of a determined final attack from the All Blacks, South Africa held out to successfully defend the trophy they won against England four years ago.

England legend Jonny Wilkinson told ITV: "It's incredible for South Africa. You see what it means to them.

"I thought New Zealand were exceptional with just 14 men and in four years time, if they carry on developing like this, they'll be the team to beat. "

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