The last five years in sports have produced some truly inspirational moments, despite sports events being seriously curtailed in 2020 and parts of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Check out some of the most memorable sports moments each year from 2019 to 2023:
2019: South Africa Rugby World Cup win
From being no-hopers in 2016 and 2017, the Springboks shocked the rugby world when they managed to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The turnaround was primarily achieved by coach Rassie Erasmus, who was appointed in 2018 and immediately delivered a masterstroke by appointing flank Siya Kolisi as captain, making him the first black rugby captain of South Africa.
Kolisi proved to be an inspirational captain and helped unite the nation in a way that hadn’t happened since 1995. The Boks didn’t seem like tournament winners after losing their first match 23-13 to the All Blacks, but they bounced back to qualify for the quarterfinals in second place and then proceeded to beat Japan 26- 3 in the quarterfinals, and Wales 19-16 in the semifinals.
Despite this turnaround, the Springboks were still heavy underdogs going into the final against an impressive England side that had comprehensively beaten the defending champion All Blacks 19-7 in their semifinal. The Boks shocked the rugby world though by demolishing England 32-12 I the final, with tries to Makazole Mpimpi and Cheslin Kolbe. A nation rejoiced in this unexpected victory, as Siya Kolisi lifted the William Web Ellis Cup − the third time a South African captain had done so.
2020: Liverpool finally win the EPL
After a 30-year drought, Liverpool finally won English football’s top domestic prize when they won the 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL) for the first time. It was a dominant performance as well; they achieved 99 log points and were 18 points clear of their nearest rivals, Manchester City.
The victory was particularly sweet and poignant for Liverpool supporters as Liverpool had majorly underachieved in recent years, despite once being the dominant team in the history of English football, winning the First division (the precursor to the EPL) a record 18 times.
Liverpool’s march to EPL glory was almost derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic; the team was well clear at the top of the log but hadn’t officially won yet when the season was halted for 3 months on 13 March 2020. The season resumed on 17 June 2020 as Liverpool won the title in empty stadiums. This didn’t matter much though to long-suffering Liverpool fans, who celebrated long into the night and praised manager Jurgen Klopp for finally helping the team to nab the coveted trophy.
2021: Italy steals Euro 2020 from England
Delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Euro 2020 finally got underway in 2021 and was uniquely held in 11 cities in 11 UEFA countries. Perennial tournament underachievers England seemed to have finally turned the corner, as they enjoyed a strong Euro 2020 campaign that once again had their fans believing that the cup was “coming home”.
England made the European Championship final for the first time and faced off against Italy. In the final, English hopes were raised even higher after Luke Shaw put England 10- in front in the 2nd minute. However, Italy equalised in the 67th minute through a Leonardo Bonucci, leading to a tied match after extra time was played.
England then lost the penalty shootout 3-2, with Marcus Rashford, Jaden Sancho and Bukayo Saka missing from the spot, giving Italy their second European title. Once again, English hearts were broken in a major tournament by a dreaded penalty shootout.
2022: Argentina FIFA World Cup win
After losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, not many people would have put money on Argentina to go on to win their third FIFA World Cup title. But that’s exactly what they did, as global football icon Lionel Messi finally achieved international football’s top prize.
The opening loss (considered a major upset) didn’t deter Argentina, who still topped their table after wins against Mexico and Poland. They then beat Australia, the Netherlands and Croatia in the knockout rounds, setting up a final against the defending champions, France. The final turned out to be a classic as France came back from 2-0 down to score 2 goals in the 80th and 81st minute taking the match into extra time.
Argentina went ahead 3-0 in extra time, only for Mbappe to score his 3rd goal in the 19th minute of extra time, (the first player to score a hat-trick in a final since Geoff Hurst in 1966), to take the match into a penalty shootout. Argentina scored all their penalties and France missed two, as the Argentines won the shootout 4-2.
2023: South Africa win the Rugby World Cup(again)
Siya Kolisi entered the realm of rugby legend when he became only the second captain after the All Blacks’ Richie McCaw to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup twice. In the process, South Africa became the second team after New Zealand to successfully defend their Rugby World Cup title and the first team to win the trophy 4 times.
And the way they did it can truly be considered epic, as they won 3 straight knockout matches by 1 point. In fact, it can be argued that no other rugby team has ever had to travel such a tough road to ultimate glory. The Bokke were in the same pool as world no 1 Ireland and world no 5 Scotland and ended second in the pool after losing to the Irish and beating the Scots.
They then beat tournament hosts France 29-28 in an epic match and came back from 15-6 down in the 70th minute to beat England 16-15 in the semifinals. They then beat the All Blacks 12-11 in the final, which sent a nation into delirium again and confirmed that this group of players rank as among the best to play the game.
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