PARIS, France -- South Africa claimed their second World Cup crown with a hard-fought 15-6 victory at the Stade de France on Saturday night as England failed in their bid to become the first team to defend their title.
Springboks skipper John Smit proudly holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Trophy in Paris.
The Springboks -- who triumphed at home in 1995 -- failed to score a try for the first time in the tournament, while England were unlucky to have one controversially ruled out by the video referee soon after half-time.
Mark Cueto dived over the line in the left corner but, after much deliberation, video referee Stuart Dickinson ruled that the winger had touched the whitewash with his foot before going over.
It was a bitter blow for the English, who had showed little attacking potency throughout the tournament but were beginning to show some promising signs.
Brian Ashton's team were beaten 36-0 by South Africa in the pool stages, but showed big improvement to reach the final with upset wins over Australia and hosts France after adopting a dour, forward-driven approach.
Jake White, who is now expected to stand down as the Boks' coach, saw his side dominate the lineouts in the final while England paid for poor discipline.
Full-back Percy Montgomery kicked four penalties and Francois Steyn landed another from just inside his opponents' half, while England's sole points came from the boot of 2003 hero Jonny Wilkinson.
Montgomery kicked South Africa ahead with a seventh-minute penalty after Tait slipped in midfield and failed to release the ball.
Wilkinson replied with a penalty of his own five minutes later after Boks winger JP Pietersen spilled an up-and-under kick.
Montgomery made it 6-3 with another goal after flanker Lewis Moody needlessly stuck out his left boot to trip Jaque Fourie in the 15th minute, and Wilkinson was wide with a drop-goal attempt soon after.
Steyn was just wide with a long-range penalty as England's forwards infringed again at the ruck, and the Springboks spurned a great opportunity just before half-time when scrum-half Fourie du Preez went for the line from close range instead of passing, and spilled the ball.
However, the South African pack screwed England's scrum and won their own feed, from which No. 8 Danie Rossouw was held up on the line after a bullish burst -- and England were penalized for killing the ball, allowing Montgomery to land a third penalty for 9-3 at the break and a personal haul of 102 points for the tournament.
England came out after the break without captain and 2003 winner Phil Vickery, with Matt Stevens taking his place at prop.
And the English almost crossed for the first try of the game as center Mathew Tait brilliantly burst through several tackles before being cut down just short of the line, and the ball was flicked wide to Cueto on the left.
However, Australian official Dickinson made a crucial decision which denied a vital five-pointer.
England gained some reward, however, as referee Alain Rolland had noticed a South African infringement before Cueto crossed, and Wilkinson reduced the deficit to 9-6 with his second penalty.
In the 47th minute, the career of Jason Robinson came to an end when the England full-back was forced to limp off with a groin injury in what was his final game before retiring.
Montgomery extended South Africa's lead three minutes later after Martin Corry infringed at a ruck, and Steyn -- at 20 the second-youngest player to feature in a final -- made it 15-6 from 47 meters out after Ben Kay blocked Os du Randt in the 62nd minute.
England made a raft of changes, bringing on 2003 champion Lawrence Dallaglio for possibly his last match at international level, but could not find a way through the Springboks' defense.
Vickery refused to blame Dickinson's decision for his side's defeat.
"You get decisions like that in a game. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't," he said. "I'm not going to stand here and blame the referee. South Africa deserved their win."
Corry added: "We can't fault effort and the heart. It's a shame that all that spirit counts for nothing. We gave it everything but it didn't go to plan. We are immensely disappointed and it's heartbreaking."
White hailed his side's stout defense, saying: "That's what wins World Cups. England were a bit unlucky not to get that try. I'm really over the moon and it's a massive win for us as a group."
Skipper John Smit added: "I'm sitting here and I'm trying not to cry. It's a feeling you can't put into words. This is for all of you. Thank you very much for all your support, even in bad times.
"It's a reward for four years of dedication and hard work. England gave us a good run. But we responded well to their technical kicking."
Lock Victor Matfield, who is joining French side Toulon, was named man of the match after dominating England's jumpers at the throw-ins.
"This is awesome. We worked for four years for this. We knew we were going to have to take it to England up front," he said.
"The emotions are greater than I ever thought. I can't wait to get back home. I can't wait to see all the South Africans." E-mail to a friend