Rugby World Cup: Cheslin Kolbe's charged-down conversion proves pivotal in Springboks' quarter-final win over France

As widely expected, South Africa's quarter-final against hosts France went down to the wire in Paris on Monday (NZ time), with the defending champs prevailing by a solitary point.

Difference between the two heavyweight global forces was always going to be determined by one or two moments of brilliance - and it was no different at the Stade de France.

While thoughts in that regard may immediately turn to Eben Etzebeth's rampaging run to score next to the posts of Handre Pollard's long-range penalty, perhaps the most telling play came much earlier in the contest, with a rare charged down conversion from Boks lightning bolt Cheslin Kolbe.

After Peato Mauvaka had scored in the corner to tie the scores at 12-12 in the 23rd minute, Sergio Ramos lined up his sideline conversion, taking full advantage of the shot clock.

But as the French fullback began his run-up, Kolbe - renowned as one of the fastest players in world rugby - readied himself and exploded off the blocks like a 100m sprinter, leaping and extending both arms to block Ramos' attempt into the turf and deny him any chance of adding the extra two points.

Although it seemed fairly innocuous at the time due to the stage of the contest, the play denied Les Bleus a chance to add two points to their total, which potentially could have been enough at the final whistle to hand them victory.

Charged down conversions are very rarely seen, especially at test level, and given the enormous stakes, Kolbe's effort is likely the most momentous ever seen.

World Rugby's laws state defending players must be behind their own tryline and await the kicker to start their run-up before they can attempt a chargedown.

"All players retire to their goal line and do not overstep that line until the kicker moves in any direction to begin their approach to kick.  

"When the kicker does this, they may charge or jump to prevent a goal but must not be physically supported by other players in these actions."

Kolbe's clutch play was one of many stand-out moments for the juggernaut wing, who also scored a try in a sparkling all-round performance.

The Springboks' win means they advance to face England in the semi-finals, while the All Blacks take on Argentina.

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