Kolisi hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup to the Stade de France heavens at the end of a madcap encounter.
New Zealand captain Sam Cane became the first man to be sent off in a World Cup final, for a head-high shot on Jesse Kriel.
The All Blacks so nearly made light of playing 62 minutes with 14 men though, with Beauden Barrett claiming the first-ever try against South Africa in a World Cup final.
Handre Pollard’s four penalties saw the Boks cling on, for a record fourth World Cup triumph, defending the crown they won in Japan in 2019.
Nick Purewal was at the Stade de France to rate the players from both sides on a historic night.
New Zealand ratings
Beauden Barrett – 8
Capped a fine showing with a well-taken try.
Will Jordan – 7
Unable to break free to make the difference but always threatened.
Rieko Ioane – 6
Could not make anything happen despite all the play flying around him on a helter-skelter night.
Jordie Barrett – 7
His stunning wide pass teed up his brother Beauden for New Zealand’s try.
Mark Telea – 8
The powerful wing must rank among the busiest of widemen in the world game. Always seeking the ball, and always busting the line.
Richie Mo’unga – 7
Missed two shots with the boot that ultimately proved the difference on the scoreboard.
Aaron Smith – 7
The relentless scrum-half played so well but could not drive his side over the line again.
Ethan de Groot – 7
Helped New Zealand more than hold their own in the tight.
Codie Taylor – 7
Always rampaging around in the loose and always solid in the set-piece.
Tyrel Lomax – 7
Provided the All Blacks with a consistently strong platform.
Brodie Retallick – 7
Went toe-to-toe with the best of the Boks all night.
Scott Barrett – 8
Such a physical showing from a man who proved all his might despite the defeat.
Shannon Frizell – 5
Recovered from his yellow card but a brainless act ultimately told for his side.
Sam Cane (c) – 3
Players have to learn that if you hit high, especially a shoulder to a face, you will be sent off.
Cane has a history of high shots and has escaped such punishment before, but received what he deserved here.
His team almost won in spite of him. This is the harsh reality of the current laws.
Ardie Savea – 7
Unable to hit his very best in a punishing game for both teams.
Samisoni Taukei’aho – 6
Kept the pressure on the Boks in the closing stages.
Tamaiti Williams – 6
Scrum continued to hold its own despite the defeat.
Nepo Laulala – 7
Threw himself around in a desperate bid to keep the ball alive and change the result.
Sam Whitelock – 7
Made several telling contributions but could not win a record third World Cup.
Dalton Papali’i – 7
Upped the ante as the All Blacks went in search of a stunning but elusive win.
Finlay Christie – 7
The flame-haired half-back pushed the pace dramatically but could not inspire a comeback.
Damian McKenzie – 7
Threw everything at a late cameo, but to no avail.
Anton Lienert-Brown – 7
Kept it solid as the All Blacks went seeking any kind of score to turn the tide.
South Africa ratings
Damian Willemse – 7
A mixed bag in many respects, especially with pointless snap drop-goal attempts, but some very astute attacking interventions.
Kurt-Lee Arendse – 7
Such a threat anywhere near the ball but could not scoop up for what would have been a stunning score.
Jessie Kriel – 7
Kept it solid especially in defence as the All Blacks just refused to relent.
Damian de Allende – 8
Put his body on the line time and again, then again, and again. Brutal.
Cheslin Kolbe – 7
Always a menace on the ball but his yellow card could have been so costly. Perhaps the most relieved man in the stadium at full-time, and could celebrate his 30th birthday with the best possible present.
Handre Pollard – 8
The nerveless Leicester fly-half did it again, nailing all his place kicks to send South Africa to another World Cup success.
Faf de Klerk – 8
The total motor of this team, buzzing around, driving everything for the Boks but also putting his opponents off their game.
Steven Kitshoff – 8
Another brutal showing of scrum expertise from one of the best set-piece technicians in the world.
Bongi Mbonambi – N/A
Injury cut his night ridiculously short. Had a fine tournament though.
Frans Malherbe – 8
Impossible to be moved in the tight and gritty in the loose.
Eben Etzebeth – 8
Another punishing showing from one of the sport’s premier enforcers.
Franco Mostert – 7
Never let anyone down with gritty effort in the tight.
Siya Kolisi (c) – 8
Even with a yellow card, this was a historic triumph.
How he made some of those late cover tackles perhaps even he will not know. Absolutely phenomenal performance from a true titan of the sport.
Duane Vermeulen – 8
So physical and so exacting at the base of the scrum.
Deon Fourie – 8
Forced into action just two minutes in, a flanker who can cover hooker delivered one of the finest rearguard performances in a final.
Ox Nche – 8
As bullish as ever in the scrum when he joined the fray.
Trevor Nyakane – 8
Ensured the Boks did not make any silly mistakes at the scrum in the fraught closing stages.
Jean Kleyn – 7
Kept pushing and pushing at the death every time the All Blacks refused to give up.
RG Snyman – 8
The biggest of all the Boks’ big men, the giant lock delivered in some style.
Kwagga Smith – 9
One of the men of the tournament and a man for a vital cameo. Wrestling the ball clean off Will Jordan proved crucial to this win.
Jasper Wiese – 8
Put himself about to great effect in the final throes.
Willie Le Roux – 7
Kept it neat and tidy when it mattered at the back.