Alastair Hignell

South Africa to win (264)

You can’t predict with any certainty what will happen in sport. That’s why we play it. That’s why we watch it.

And if you could, you wouldn’t share it with the millions of readers who have visited this website in the last few weeks.

You’d remortgage your house, liquidize your assets and cart all your life-savings down to the nearest bookie.

Most people don’t bet on sport for that very reason. Others don’t bet on sport because, however hard they try, their hearts rule their heads. Fans are not so much analytical, as anatomical. One-eyed supporters would rather cut off their right arms than bet against their own team.

Journalists too wouldn’t be human if their assessment was entirely unclouded either by patriotism or the needs of the market they serve. But I still can’t make out a case for saying that England should win the World Cup.

South Africa have the better individual players. If you made up a composite side from the two teams, the Springbok representation might be only marginally higher than England’s, if you picked a world XV from this tournament, South Africa would have an overwhelming majority.

Like England, they have an intelligent and articulate coach, Jake White, and a respected and inspirational captain, John Smit. Unlike England, this team has been four years in the making – longer if you count the time many of the Springboks spent with Jake White in the under 21 set-up - and has a settled and experienced look to it.

Brian Ashton by contrast has been in charge of England for just 10 months, and openly admits that he still hadn’t decided on his best line-up when the tournament started.

That process was still going on when this South African side thrashed this England side by 36 points to nil - the worst ever World Cup defeat for any England side.


Of course it is possible to argue that that was four weeks ago, and that if a week is a long time in politics, it can be close to an eternity in sport, but it is equally impossible to deny that the cornerstones of the Boks' success that day are still in place nor that the return of former International Player of the Year, Schalk Burger, is anything but a considerable bonus.

Fourie du Preez has few rivals as the world’s best scrum-half, locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha are acknowledged as the best line-out combination in the game, while, as the semi-final destruction of Argentina demonstrated, Bryan Habana is the most deadly finisher in the world, and Percy Montgomery has a place-kicking success rate that Jonny Wilkinson can only envy.

But Wilkinson, as he showed in both the quarter-final against Australia and the semi-final against France, kicks the points when they matter most, while it is impossible to quantify the effect he has on the players around him. They know that if they can keep the game close, reduce it to a sudden-death shoot-out, they have on their side the greatest gun-slinger the world of rugby has ever seen.

Is it enough? Australia (because their forwards were blown away at the set-piece) and France (following the misguided notion of an eccentric coach) got sucked into a war of attrition in which their chances of success were greatly reduced.

As a journalist, I believe that South Africa won’t make the same mistake. As an Englishman, I hope they do. Either way, I’m not putting any money on it.

Alastair Hignell is a former England rugby international who commentates on rugby union for Radio 5 Live. He is covering England at the World Cup. 5 Live's full broadcast schedule is here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:57 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy H wrote:

I personally dont think it'll matter if the saffas do get into a war of attrition with england...they've got the players to come through and win anyway.


  • 2.
  • At 11:57 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • stuart mack wrote:

A win is a win however you achieve it, this English rugby side like the last one that won the rugby world cup, knows what to do to win games. It doesn't look good and it won't win over many fans, but damn it, it is effective.

Will SA win? No! Should they? Yes, but if that was what sport was all about then Argentina would be playing Georgia in the final, and they aren't.
I just want England to win because that's all that'll be remebered, and who could begrudge this England side a little glory.

  • 3.
  • At 11:57 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Albundy wrote:

Well said finally an englishman whose common sense hasn't been blinded by over eager patriotism.

  • 4.
  • At 12:01 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • English Italophile wrote:

Logic would suggest that Alastair's instinct here is likely to be correct, but I think it will depend on the referee's interpretation (don't know who the ref will be). S.Africa are remarkably talented and fit, but specialise in a kind of semi-organised chaos (which shows they are very versatile) and frankly play right on the borderline of legality (offsides, playing ball off their feet, high tackles and some forward passes - for some reason a modern rugby blight).

For an example of a high tackle look no further than Brian Habana's blatant forearm smash on Roncero in the S-F; how he has escaped a citing goodness only knows - it takes a lot to disturb Roncero. He could have easily been out of the England game.
If S.Africa resort to such tactics then England will profit but England will need to expand their game beyond tight forward control because the SA players are more versatile, so it will also require some brilliance from the backs if they are to win.

  • 5.
  • At 12:02 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Albundy wrote:

You can't be series... yes in the last game Johnny was out with injury but all the forwards were playing and what happened in that game speaks for itself. The english backline is very one-dimensional and i feel against the springboks, whose backline is exactly the opposite, it will only count against them.

  • 6.
  • At 12:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ali wrote:

Congrats to both SA & England for reaching the final of the World Cup.

As far as im concerned SA will obviously have the phycological advantage over england coming into the game, however its up to england to stamp their authority & break them early on to have any chance of retaining their title against a very strong and unified springbok team.
Cant w8!!!!

  • 7.
  • At 12:09 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ed newton wrote:

The result will reside in the heads of the players as and when they march out onto the pitch. As we have seen so far in this tournament it will have little to do with current form and best players- if it did Saturdays game would be South Africa v The All Blacks. I think England have got it right in their minds, lets hope so

  • 8.
  • At 12:16 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • edi wrote:

I agree with Dick Best. It would have been better if England had gone out early and then the underlying problems in the English game would have been attended to. The Boks will win anyway though.

  • 9.
  • At 12:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Magmol wrote:

The whole thing about England teams is being overhyped. I think South Africa should win the tournament for the good of the game. England have scored the least tries that is a defensive game without flair and passion. The way chelsea plays football a matter of just winning. GO GO BOKS.

  • 10.
  • At 12:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Steven wrote:

Let's face it in rugby terms we are the West Germany of International football. No one likes us or our style of play but we seem to keep winning. No one remembers the style of play after the fact just who won. Here's to England pulling off the biggest sporting turnaround in history!

  • 11.
  • At 12:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • wardy wrote:

For what its worth, here are the thoughts from an ambivalent Scot:
1)If you (the media)genuinely want England to win then keep writing them off, make sure they go into the game as "underdogs". Talk up SA as much as you can, they are not half as good as they think they are.
2)England are much stronger mentally and SA are liable to blow at crucial points in the game.
3)Kick everything to Pietersen
4)Squeeze du Preez for 80 mins
5)Scrum SA to death, the English front row is far superior
6)Hope that the referee allows England to continuously infringe offside - well, they all have so far!!!
Good Luck.

  • 12.
  • At 12:30 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

8 years ago, I received 150 emails from Saffers "consoling me" following the semi-final defeat against SA & Jannie de Beer's drop goals. Now we have our own drop goal specialist and England get labelled "boring". How hypocritical is that? Also, SH fans make posts supporting their team and its ok but if anyone in England says anything the least supportive of our own team, then we're being "Arrogant". I'm just so fed up of this SH bullsh1t. If SA win, then we shouldn't slag our team off like the Aussies do, or complain endlessly about the ref like the Kiwis have but shrug our shoulders like the French have and just live with it. I really hope England win on Saturday but even if they don't, they have already played superbly and deserve our thanks for a wonderful world cup. Come on England!!

  • 13.
  • At 12:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

We only 'liquidize' our assets in the unlikely event that we want to drink them. It's more common to 'liquidate' them.

  • 14.
  • At 12:35 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

The Boks are a complete outfit and there isn't really a weakness. They are a blend of vast experience and youth. All players are very skillful and they play as a team. They also always take their chances. But they have yet to be challenged by a really powerful team. If England can perform again, the Boks will struggle. If England perform like the last meeting between the two, the score will be the same.

My money is still on England, all the same, dependent upon the team that Ashton puts on the park.

  • 15.
  • At 12:37 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dan Hughes-Morgan wrote:

If England win it will be a victory for sheer bloody mindedness and a refusal to back down in the face of better sides and stupid odds.

Which to be honest I don't think we see enough of in sport.

Say what you like about the England rugby team over the last 10 years, when the chips are down, when it really really matters, I've never seen a sporting outfit respond as well as they (generally) have.

  • 16.
  • At 12:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • cal wrote:

Italophile - have you been watching the same tournament as me? Trite comments about South Africa's "bordeline legality" are starting to wear thin. The Islander high-tackle antics in this World Cup were truly disturbing but barely got a mention and the Argentinians were no angels in the semi - watch the replay.

  • 17.
  • At 12:40 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tubber wrote:

It is obvious that South Africa has a much better playing record than England over the last few years. The same was true of Australia and France, so we cannot allow that to impress us.
I am delighted though a bit mystified by the transformation in England's spirit. Is it due to dogged traditions of English people? Or to the experience of playing in the premiership in domestic games? Who cares. One more hard push lads. Show us all what you are made of.

  • 18.
  • At 12:40 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Will people quit saying that England play 'ugly'. Tight tense games are glorious - heroic even. I would rather watch one or two moments of dazzling brilliance, rather than a litany of poor tackles, defensive errors and fourteen tries.
These are the best defences in the world, many of the teams that have left tournament seemed to forget that.

  • 19.
  • At 12:41 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gerald Keast wrote:

As an England supporter I think that the only way I am going to be able to enjoy Saturday night is by placing a HUGE wager on the Spring Boks!!!

  • 20.
  • At 12:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

I don't understand this "for the good of the game" line that a lot of antipodeans keep pulling out. Surely the turnaround that England have achieved as well as the performance of the "minnows" in this world cup have shown that the game is in great shape but can still be improved. Surely for the "good of the game" England should finish victorious and show that the Super Powers are human after all. COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • 21.
  • At 12:43 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Scud wrote:

Well done to both teams for reaching the final.

I personally will be very proud of the English team no matter what the result is on Saturday as they showed guts and fighting spirit to come back from the 36-0 loss to the Boks.

May the best team on the day win.

  • 22.
  • At 12:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

A lot of experts are saying that if South Africa keep the 36-0 in their minds they will lose. England went into the group game without any strategy due to injury and suspension and it immediately showed. Vickey to take on Os will allow Big Ted to attack the Springbok Tight Head. Moody has the size over Rees to be an equal match with Juan Smith.

In the backs we have our experienced decision makers in Gommarsal and Jonny, aided by Catt playing in his proper position. With the ball we win, we now have people who know what to do with it.

If Hipkiss plays, he will add an extra dimension in being able to straighten the line.

England won't make the errors the Pumas did. Alain Rolland is the referee, and after seeing England pulverise the Aussie pack, will referee the scrum accordingly.

Whilst the Springboks have the better players, they also have the more temperamental ones. I think you can expect at least one Springbok in the sinbin, at some point in the game.

If its close with 20 minutes to go, then the money will be on England.

I hope Jake White is thinking like Springbok fans and already claiming victory as by thinking this the South Africans (as great John Eales says) will lose .. unfortunately he's a better coach than that

  • 23.
  • At 12:45 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Baxter_13 wrote:

Head vs. Heart?

I've just transplanted half my heart into my brain!!!

In regards to "But I still can’t make out a case for saying that England should win the World Cup" I don't really agree... yes, you are right, SA is four years in the making, they have worked hard, grafting away and look the very epitomy of a solid team...
But in just 4 weeks England's players have stood up, taken accountability for their own poor play and made the biggest come back in Rugby history.

I propose this
- RSA should win the World Cup because they have worked hard for it over the last four years.
- England should win the world cup because they've worked miracles over the last four weeks.
You can't say neither side DON't deserve it!!

Anyone agree?

  • 24.
  • At 12:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Lee Simmonds wrote:

Logic correctly denotes a Boks Victory, But Logic also said The Wallabies and the French.

OK so on paper South Africa look a more expansive and versatile side with the ability to score points from almost anywhere and Montgomerey's kicking has been superb throughout the tournament (He is due an off day) and thats why they are favourites.

England have the advantage of having played harder games and having been under pressure from pretty much day one of this competition and now seem to be a highly organised and disciplined unit.

Unfortunately I cannot see anything but a Sprigbok win but by no more than 5 points.

Here's hoping I'm wrong!!

The referee will be Alain Rolland I believe. His bilingual skills (French father) will not be required after all. But attention to the offside zone - where Schalk Burger lives - will!
I am looking forward to this game, and hope that England's remarkable recovery continues.

  • 26.
  • At 12:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Giepie wrote:

A reply to Jon. As a South African, I must stress that no previous results count for anything. This is a new game and is going to be very tough for both teams. If England looses then the whole country CAN applaud them becaus eof the way they have come back. IF they win we will applaud our Boks for a magnificent world cup.
Stop slagging your team whichever it is! Now is the time o support them, no matter what.
SA 2 win.

  • 27.
  • At 12:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

Lets put it this way; when was the last time we saw England beat South Africa? The way i see it is that we have to beat them at some point, is the World Cup final not an ideal opportunity to do it?

I thought we had no chance against Australia. And the same with France. I think if we had played either of those teams in the final we would have lost. I think that the guys that were on the South Africa tour this summer and the team that got kaned 36-0 want some serious revenge. The team that played them was half as strong as the team that have beaten aus and france. No Jonny? Not this time.

Bring it on Springboks, revenge is imminent.

  • 28.
  • At 12:49 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • John Grint wrote:

England have played three of the top-five ranked teams during this tournament - South Africa, France and Australia - and if they emerge victorious on Saturday they will be justifiably worthy of the title "World Champions". On the other hand, were South Africa to win I should have some misgivings about according them the status of true "World Champions" as they would only have beaten England amongst the top-five.

  • 29.
  • At 12:49 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

South Africa will expose Englands negative strategy if they get ahead early.

Then the game will be over because England lacks the flair to really power through teams if they cant just take the penalties on offer and kick drop goals to edge ahead.

If England manage to put up points early, it will be a totally different story because they will then be able to control the game with their tactical kicking.

I forecast that the first team to go 5 or more points ahead will win the final.

  • 30.
  • At 12:49 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gary S wrote:

England have scored less tries because they've played against better defenses. On the other hand England have also conceded less tries... South Africa have conceded tries in every game they've played except the 36-0! Including 2 from Fiji who were down to 14 men.

My heart is telling me that England have all the momentum, they have the players that have been here before and, by no means perfect, are far more disciplined than SA (just check the last 5 minutes of the Argentina game...).

South Africa are definitely beatable. But is it just one game too far for us...

  • 31.
  • At 12:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

A message for our boys in france believe in yourselves you can win this world cup final despite what the boks say and the whole of England are behind you.

  • 32.
  • At 12:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

I don't understand this "for the good of the game" line that a lot of antipodeans keep pulling out. Surely the turnaround that England have achieved as well as the performance of the "minnows" in this world cup have shown that the game is in great shape but can still be improved. Surely for the "good of the game" England should finish victorious and show that the Super Powers are human after all. COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • 33.
  • At 12:51 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Magmol .. for the good of the game, the winners of the tournament will be the best team on the day.

I believe it will be a very close, tense game. It will take some b@lls for SA to start throwing the ball around.

The over riding instinct for the players will be to not lose the game, hence a tight defensive game, it will be slight margins of superiority that decide the outcome.. I believe the ref will set the tone .. who adapts to the ref the quickest may gain the upperhand, but I think it will come down to kicking .. both from hand and penalties .. unfortunately SA seem to have the upper hand there.

I hope the Saffers have won the game already in their heads, because they might just get a surprise from a rejuvenated and dogged England Team that have had to produce the goods or go out in all of their last 4 games.

England know how to grind out a win. .. and thats all that matters .. the name on the trophy, not the style it was won with, I'll take an England win by whatever means possible.

  • 34.
  • At 12:52 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

i think people have this strange notion of what is exciting in rugby

exciting games for the neutral are either the underdog coming back and beating the odds on favourite (how many neutrals were excited in the France v NZ quarter, or the SA v Fiji one when it was 20-20?!)

but england are labelled boring because we use our greatest asset (our forwards) to wear down the opponents and get good field postition.

I've been much more excited with the two close knock out matches (aus an france) than with the samoa and tonga v england matches...which were over mid way through the second half and boring to watch after then because theres only one winner, jus like i found myself being bored when SA beat argentina quite comfortably....for me close games are wayyyy better to watch, to see how each team copes under pressure because that is how a true world cup winning team is made, by how well it copes under pressure....england have been through it twice but i wonder if SA can do what aus an france could not....

  • 35.
  • At 12:53 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

I think what this world cup has shown is that grit and determination can overcome individual brilliance.

I don't think there is any doubt that England do not have as many world-class players as some of our opponents BUT they have had the mental toughness to grind out wins (although I'm still not sure how they managed it!).

As to the style of play, who cares how you do it? I have seen some desparately dull games from SH sides but I can't tell you exactly when - I just remember the result.

WE ARE IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL - that is the bottom line.

  • 36.
  • At 12:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

One of the key reasons England played so poorly in 36-0 defeat to SA was beacuse all three of the props used had spent much of the last year recuperating from injury. As a consequence they did not have the match fitness to compete effectively which resulted in a very poor performance. Games against Tonga and Samoa enabled them to get up to speed and it was no surprise that the demolition of the Aussies and the subdueing of France stemmed from the power of the England front row.
If the Boks do have any weaknesses its in there front row where on Sunday night OZ Du Randt was visibly just hanging on early in the second half and the tight head is a long way off match fitness.
If Sheridan and co perform to their potential they will certainly put the Boks on the back foot and then who knows England will have a platform to control the game and nullify the myriad of Bok threats.
Good luck England

  • 37.
  • At 12:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Collins wrote:

Now let us consider another aspect of this RWC, that is the 'expert analysis'. This has been mostly wrong, resulting in the likes of Greenwood and Dawson reverting to hysteria and squealing like schoolgirls. The England results have been so surprising to the so called 'experts'. Ashton on the other seems to remain phlegmatic, perhaps he is the one that has been under-estimated, and the only one who understands this squad's capabilities. Impressive coaching at the highest level.

  • 38.
  • At 12:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gawen Taylor wrote:

I am elated England have made the Final, after all 3 out of six Finals has to be enviable?

World cups are all about form aren't they?

England appear to be coming into some sort of form which has allowed them to put in performances to beat Australia and France. If you had told me that We'd be in the Final three weeks ago after the pool match against South Africa I'd have laughed at you! I hoped we'd get into the knockout stages but anything more than that would be a bonus.

Now we're in the Final, we can but dare to dream!

South Africa are the favourites no doubt but with form going into teh World Cup is this such a bad thing for England? South Africa EXPECT to win it and so do their fans, does this not add pressure on their players?

More than this the side South Africa beat in the pool match was not full strentgh and certainly not playing with the confidence and belief they are now?

It IS a cup final and anything can happen... :o)

  • 39.
  • At 01:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Tom, we last beat South Africa this time last year. In the summer tests, even though we had a weakened side through illness and club committments, we were still holding them at half time in the games.

Whisper it quietly, but I think we'll do it.

  • 40.
  • At 01:02 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

oh and with reference to comment 14, Karl, i think that you're just not looking hard enough, england managed to find the weaknesses in both aus an france (scrum for aus an traille playing full back for france)

In terms of SA these weaknesses are less pronounced...but they are still there

Berger tends to stray offside and a lil "accidental" dummy by gomarsall would expose this maybe

Steyn whilst being one of the best centres in the world is very assured of himself...and whilst being a could also be a negative if he gets arrogant and starts tryin to drop goals from 50+ metres like in super 14's, and whilst he's got those, doing it in a world cup final is a different matter

and finally habanas obvious height disadvantage....i saw in the earlier rounds a few crossfield kicks being employed but not have someone like sackey perhaps, match him up against habana and put a kick across to him....he will have no chance

  • 41.
  • At 01:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anna Charlton wrote:

I don't think SA have really been tested in a match of attrition yet. Fiji was tight but not that tight and in the dying minutes there was no doubt who was the winner.

I'm sorry but I can't take Percy seriously. The man has highlights in his hair - that takes two hours in a hairdresser with either loads of tin foil of a plastic cap on your head. I realise he has been impressive on the pitch but highlights!!!!

  • 42.
  • At 01:05 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Lee Stephens wrote:

Whereas - so far in this tournament -the other teams England have faced have not...SA have the full compliment of brains, talent in every position together with a cool approach and a very good coach. I really do hope England can pull them in and put them under serious pressure up front - it's the toughest challenge yet and so it should be it makes for a great RWC final!

  • 43.
  • At 01:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Post 10: magnol; do you understand the definition of 'passion'? It's not been flowing, open rugby by England but one of the key reasons we're through is PASSION ... numpty.

3 key areas for improvement by England are needed:
1) Our line-out has got to work better than v. France or we'll be killed.
2) Gommarsal has got to box kick better - he's been kicking too deep: give Montgomery time and we'll lose 30-40 yards everytime.
3) Monster their scrum: squeeze the space/time for their scrum half, 'cos he is brilliant.

Do the above and SA will go the way of the others: home empty-handed.

  • 44.
  • At 01:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

I really think that you cant call England boring and you cant say that SA don't have the bottle either.

The final is such a clash of styles and we should all just be looking forward to seeing which one prevails.

It should be an absolute cracker!! Go England!!

  • 45.
  • At 01:11 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Why would an englishman not support his own country, even if SA look the better side, where is your patriotism...?!

  • 46.
  • At 01:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Terenceno14 wrote:

yes much better idea that england was knocked out early, so we could address the flaws in our game and develop a team capable reaching the world cup final. D'oh!

  • 47.
  • At 01:13 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nickc wrote:

Unfortunately I think you might be right but England have a much better chance than you give them. The Jaapies have been together for a long time but so had the All Blacks and Ireland. I personally think that England will be under less pressure-they have nothing to lose. Similarly the loss in the group game will only give the added motivation. The Boks will be wary as they have not played an in form England side for a good couple of years (or since the last world cup). They looked very average against Tonga and Fiji and could have lost both games had it not been for a bounce in one and an excellent tackle in the other. The way SA struggled to break the Fiji line by rucking highlights a weakness in their game. A lot depends on the England penalty count (cue worries about Moody) and the referee (Alan Roland I think). If the ref actually applies the laws accurately and properly then SA will struggle with their penalty count. Tri-Nations and Super 14 allow too much infringement on the floor and "flat" passing. As the ref is Northern Hemisphere hopefully this will be addressed. Steyne has also appeared nervous and is making mistakes. If Moody can get in his and Butch James' face we will have a good chance. The SA line-out is the best in the world however and England tapped far too many balls back against France-will this have been fixed? SA scored their tries against Argentinian mistakes and did not create too much. Habana is very dangerous (not too many long, flat passes please Jonny) but Pieterson is vulnerable. Can't wait until Saturday!

  • 48.
  • At 01:16 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gannet wrote:

Come on people...

Who thought Argentina would beat France?

Who thought England would beat Austrailia?

Who though France would beat the All Blacks?

Who thought England would beat France?

There is no reason why England cannot beat SA. Even if they are underdogs. Evidently a team 'on paper' does not actually play the match.

  • 49.
  • At 01:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Derek Fallon wrote:

England are in the final purely on luck. They play a style that would make watching paint dry more interesting. Ireland beat them 43-13 six months ago and SA beat them 36-0 three weeks ago. If they did by some miracle win it would set Rugby back 20 years.

  • 50.
  • At 01:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Max wrote:

Hopefully the Sprinboks will win - and they DESERVE it... since they are apart from being the best team on the field also the most humble team on the field....

They have been criticised and heckled non-stop from all sides but not once did you hear ANY South African player or Coach or Manager comment ANYTHING negative about ANY other team... they are always full of compliments for the other teams... especially also to England... always full of compliments for the England coach and the England players...

This just reflects their TRUE sportsmanship in this whole Rugby World Cup.

This is unlike the England team & coach and their supporters... who keep on taunting and screaming from the roof tops - We will make history, We will win!!! etc etc etc.

So in reaction to Gawen's comment earlier - NO..... South Africa and all their fans don't EXPECT to win... we just hope for the best since the guys really deserve it!

The England Team and their fans EXPECT to win and PROCLAIM it all the time.... I think the pressure are more on THEM to live up to their BIG words.

Hopefully there will be a humble and deserving winner of the Rugby World Cup this year.... GO SPRINGBOKS!!!!!

  • 51.
  • At 01:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

I'd like to comment on Martin's comment. If England have the so called power and experience then what were they doing 4 weeks ago when they were embarrassed by a well-oiled proffessional South African team. They looked like a bunch of school boys being shown how to play rugby. If you say that result was because Jonny Wilkinson wasn't playing, then you have resigned to fact that England are a one man team with no depth.
England are only in the final as a result of shocking rugby by Australia and a French team that didn't even show up for the semi final. Should South Africa play to their full potential another thumping is inevitable.
SA are a team that don't rely on one member's form. For that reason England are bound to fall very short of success in a world cup where they should not have even made the semi final.


  • 52.
  • At 01:20 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mahesh wrote:

i'm australian but i love english rugby. i love the relentless aggression, the attention to technical detail, the rolling mauls, the incessant sledging and most of all, johnny wilkinson.

i must say, i was really disappointed after the south africa match, but then johnny came back, and i never doubted that england would make the final. i was really hoping fiji or argentina would undo the boks, but it looks like england will have to do it the hard way this time around....

anyway, the final should be a fantastic contest.

ps- i've got a feeling percy will choke when it comes to the really important kicks

  • 53.
  • At 01:20 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Viva-la-Scots wrote:

I find this discussion of the 'best team' or a 'worthy winner' to be all academic twaddle. In the real world, the brightest people never make the most money or the best cook win the most Michelin stars etc, etc. To be a winner, you have to know how to handle pressure. To be the World Champions you have to win the World Cup not prance around the globe winning one off test matches.

How you win anything in life is not always pretty because you will be fought for every inch of your success. But more importantly, you need to be able to handle the pressure. For that reason and for that reason alone, my money is on the English to beat SA. SA are easily rattled. No real tough games and a near catastophic loss of discipline against Fiji make them vunerable to a tight game. The last 20 minutes will win it and I know which team I would want to be supporting if it comes to a test of nerve.

  • 54.
  • At 01:22 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David H wrote:

As a Scot I have to be honest and say what impresses me most about the England team is their ability to make it happen when it really matters. No other team in the world at the moment has that incredible level of self-belief that may well see them win again.

As a Scot I also have to say that if the English media (and I stupidly thought it was the British media) could be a little more mature I would be delighted for England to win. But the behaviour of the English media over the last few weeks just guarantees that for the rest of the UK an English win would be rammed down our throats for the next four (no forty, as we have still never heard the end of the 66 football world cup win) years. It is time that the media accepted that they have a resposibility to the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland and not just to Ingerland.

To the English people (not the media) well done and the best of luck.

  • 55.
  • At 01:23 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Billybob wrote:

Patriotism is for morons.

S.A. have only ever looked troubled in this tournament when faced with the free flow rugby of the Pacific islanders. Against grinders like Argentina and England they have strolled it, and will again.

  • 56.
  • At 01:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Giles wrote:

Just spent £700 on a ticket - If we lose hey we lose
e but it'll be a great night and England deserve the crowd to acknowledge their achievements of being the 9th best in the world and making the final...

SA are a great all-round side but if you cut out errors which they feed off and generally score all their tries from, eg. knock ons and intercept passes then England can win. they are not great from 1st phase ball so England need to keep it very tight and get away with some "professional" fouls on Du Preez as he runs the show for SA, without him I genrally think they ar eno better than England. Gomarsall needs to hound him and man mark him as he always pops up in the right places...hold on to his shirt tug him back whatever...and inally Jonny ust kick his kicks as Percy will..

England are definitely huge underdogs but they can win with a bit more lady luck!

Plus remeber there will be many more english fans out will be like playing at Twickenham...

  • 57.
  • At 01:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

A win is not a win, and we just have to look at Ben Johnson for proof. Just because you win doesn't mean you're the best.
Surely the win is soured when "at any cost" is in use? If you're team play badly, and win, the bitter aftertaste surely lasts a long time. What does Ben Johnson do with his time these days? I don't care.

  • 58.
  • At 01:26 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Adam 'Soupiel' Hodgson wrote:

As an Englishman born in Durban I have mixed feeling over this final. RSA are the better all round team and without doubt are favourites to win; however, who trully believed England would beat the Aussies & French? Only the England squad presumably.

As an aside, I bet on Habana to be top try scorer & England & South Africa to win before the tournament. So this weekend I will win 2 of my 3 bets! Hansa Pilsners on me?

Both countries should be made up that their teams are going to be completing what has been an excellent tournament. May the best team win.

  • 59.
  • At 01:27 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

I totally agree with these comments, I am and will always be an England rugby fanatic, just to see them in the Final is outstanding and a credit to the team and the "no surrender" attitude of the players. I for one didn't see them getting past the Quarters.

My heart says there is a chance that England can pull it off and there is. BUT and this is a big BUT on paper the SA are too strong, skillful and inventive. For this to happen the England team will need to go up not 1 but 3 gears and play the rugby we have not seen from them in this tournement so far, either that or SA will have to have a bad day at the office. Whatever the situation I don't think this will be a 36 - 0 result again, it will be a closer game and for the sake of the sport I hope it is a nail biter to the end.

My head is telling me SA to win by 5 points. I hope my head is wrong come on England!!!

  • 60.
  • At 01:27 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rupert wrote:

To Derek -no 48

it would also make us back to back World Cup Champions

  • 61.
  • At 01:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Guy Darvill wrote:

A message for Derek Fallon - why would England winning set back rugby 20 years? Is that because you believe the future of rugby is teams like Wales throwing the ball around and conceeding 30 points?

Strangely, I think England and South Africa have switched places from 4 years ago. The difference? England are now in the final whereas SA couldn't get past the Quarters in 2003.

  • 62.
  • At 01:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jamie Nickson wrote:

The sheer fact that the entire rugby world are keen to see the england loose, speaks for itself! The performance the lads have put in is inspirational.
So to all you aussies, all blacks and frenchman....enjoy the game from home....not Paris!

  • 63.
  • At 01:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • The Landlord wrote:

Aye, Derek's right. England beat Australia purely out of luck, and beat France out of luck too. If they beat SA that will also have been sheer luck, and in his mind England will also win all future matches out of sheer luck too.

ON second thoughts perhaps Derek's mind is where opinions like this should stay :)

  • 64.
  • At 01:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

As an Irish supporter I hope the Cup comes back to the Northern Hemisphere, I am also happy that Ireland will be represented in some way in the final with the excellent referee Alain Rolland. I will be routing for England but my head tells me I have got it wrong and SA will do it. I am expecting a very close game and I think Martin Johson has called it right for the last few England games and that is if they are within 3 points at the 60 minute mark they find this resolve from somewhere and make it happen. Looking forward to it and was delighted to see not as many easy win's in this competition which proves the smaller unions are getting better which is good for the game. Now the IRB need to show their long term vision and award the 2015 RWC to one of the smaller unions to promote the game.

  • 65.
  • At 01:33 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • POM Scouse Cath,Adelaide wrote:


  • 66.
  • At 01:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • tooner wrote:

Will england win? Its possible. Yes there are problems in the Domestic game and set up here. But when it comes to style of play can everyone stop falling for this SH Kiwi led propaganda of how rugby should be played. Rugby should be played to win. If you want to watch open expansive rugby, try 7s or dare I suggest it League if you want missed / broken tackles. The heart the England team and a few other teams have shown has been good for the sport full stop. C'mon the Lads

  • 67.
  • At 01:38 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

Who cares if England play "ugly" or "narrow" rugby. They are getting results and the last time I looked it was all about winning and not that they looked good and lost by three points...

SA do have the better side (on paper) and have beaten Eng in the World Cup and before, but then so did Australia and France.

Saturday's game will be ugly, ferocious and tight... Just the way England like it.

The only way SA will win is to throw it around and get it out to the likes of Habana. However I can't see them doing this in the final due to nerves.

England by 3 points is my prediction! And yes, i will have a bet as well...

  • 68.
  • At 01:38 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

"We last beat South Africa this time last year."
You do realise that was effectively a youth side that toured for SA right (drawing the series)?

And how in the world does the fact the Montgomery is top scorer give people hope because "he must have an off day" or the fact that we lost 36-0 hence advantage us becuase we "aren't over-confident" and are a completely changed side, never mind that the game plan is identical and that people said before the humiliation that it should just be a matter of a few points difference and "if we're there at 60 minutes we could win it."

This is a side that has come alive at 60 against us.

They have the fear factor and the form which is why we don't have half a chance.

  • 69.
  • At 01:41 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Iggystan wrote:

I'm a Scot and would like to echo the sentiments of David #49.

The term 'ugly' has been bandied around which appears to be used as a metaphor for 'unfamiliar'.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you only have one eye (as many commenters seem to) you will not be able to get perspective or depth on what you see.
England do have good backs, but why would any team not play to their superiority (ie the forwards)?
I would advise England to ignore the 'boring' and 'ugly' tags and just get on with it.
In 1991 the same lines were being used, England played a more expansive game in the final and promptly lost. It would be a shame if they listen to this stuff now.

I would like to see England win as it will be a vindication of the multi-faceted rugby style of the northern hemisphere.
Good luck to them on Saturday.

  • 70.
  • At 01:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Shaun Bonetta wrote:

The S Africans were gifted all but one of their trys and lets face it any one can score from any distance out if there is no one to stop them!
Bring them on this is one game they won't have so easy.

  • 71.
  • At 01:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Donna wrote:

Post ~#48 "England are in the final purely on luck." Nonsense. They're in the final because they have fought like bloody hell to get there, as have South Africa. Knock-out competition in any sport is more about mental toughness than physical talent, and England have shown it in abundance.

That said, I'm still gobsmacked that we're in the final, and still confidently predicting (as I have for the last 3 weeks) that we're going to get hammered! Whatever the result, I will happily congratulate the World Cup winners for doing the business when it matters. Isn't that what the whole thing's about?

  • 72.
  • At 01:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Joe G wrote:

Ah the interesting grumblings of an assumedly Irish fan. What is the point of a knock out competition if not to win games? What makes a great team if not to be able to grind out victories under huge pressure whilst not playing to full potential? (Quote Chealsea, Man Utd and Arsenal in recent seasons - even Liverpool in the Champ League if you wish!).

The two teams in this 2007 RWC final are the two that have managed to win games ugly when required. SA vs Tonga, Fiji and possibly an Argentinan side who where overwhelmed by the occasion. ENG vs Samoa, Tonga, Aus and France. They are both deserving as they held their bottle, and most importantly delivered mentally, defensively and in attack at crucial times when it really mattered on the big stage.

This looks set to be an awesome, physical battle in the early stages. If Englands players are not massively up for this game after humiliation in the group stages, then my name is Roger Rabbit.

Mr Rolland will have his hands full in the first 10 mins, expect 3 or more flare ups, some huge hits, and possibly a sin bin in that time.

I'm sure I'm like you all when I say....roll on Saturday!! Allez Les Blancs!!

  • 73.
  • At 01:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

If CJ Van Der Linde scrummages like he did against Argentina (he was at ninety degrees most of the time) then Alain Rolland will penalise him at every scrum. England should have the edge in the front row but it is essential that the superb Matfield and Botha are not allowed to dominate the line out. Parity there would give England a real boost.
With the greatest of respect to Fiji and Argentina I would have backed England to have scored tries in those games as well, particularly given the number of unforced errors by Argentina, and I don't think that there is much doubt that England have had the tougher route to the final. What is perhaps more pertinent is that RSA have also conceded tries on a fairly regular basis.
Logically RSA should win but can we please stop billing this as the free flowing South Africans against the obdurate English? RSA are undoubtedly an admirable side but their rugby is hardly cavalier.
Just under a year ago I was at Twickenham watching two poor sides slug it out in a game that was won by a try from Phil Vickery. If you had told me then that I was watching a preview of the World Cup Final I would have laughed in your face. Such is the capricious, and wonderful, nature of sport.

  • 74.
  • At 01:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Well, here in SA, there are 44 million sports mad Saffers itching for the weekend. Should be a fantastic spectacle to end a fantastic World Cup. My heart and head say SA, but on the day, anything is possible. Congrats to England for turning it around. Also, don’t worry about these “boring rugby” comments.... The Aussies have been saying this to us for years. Just laugh it off and take it with a pinch of salt.

  • 75.
  • At 01:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • John Fletcher wrote:

It'll all come down to which side holds its nerve best. England did that against Australia and France and they'll be happy to be underdogs again.

The Boks clearly have the best players - and I am worried that they won't bottle it.

Whatever, it's been a great World Cup. Incidentally I'd have thought the French would have lynched Laporte rather than make him Minister of Sport. What a mess he made of what should have been a great team!

  • 76.
  • At 01:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • DB wrote:

Both England and SA deserve to be in the final, no matter how they got there. England ground out two tough victories and SA looked scrappily impressive in their two knock-out matches.
I am supporting South Africa and really hope they win, however this England team has an impressive record of squeezing out victories.

On the SH teams - please don't lump SA in with Aus and NZ, we take a fair amount of flack from these countries ourselves, and would ideally want to play in the 7 nations (Same Time zones etc. Laugh off the Tri-Nations pantomime.

If SA are leading by less than 10 with 20 minutes to go England will win.
Good luck to both teams.

  • 77.
  • At 01:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David Ward wrote:

The reason England beat both Aus and France is that they didn't allow them to play the game THEY wanted. Due to this, both sides went away from their natural gameplan and you could clearly see they lost their bottle. SA have not PROPERLY been tested, their previous result against England is now irrelevant, whilst the players are the same, the team they will be facing on Saturday is totally different as their mentality is unregonisable. The odds may be with SA but after two wins over two of the tournament favourites when we were previously written off can anyone really say they CAN'T do it? It's going to be a great game and win or lose, I'm a proud supporter of England Rugby.

  • 78.
  • At 01:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • BokFan wrote:

First of all, well done England, that was pure guts! But lets clarify one thing, people in this blog mentioned that SA scored "opportunistic" tries.. but the reality is that the extreme sustained pressure at breakdowns and in the tackle that the boks enforce on the oppostion starts to cause the desperate passes and bad options that lead to those "opportunity" tries. If England don't watch out for that, and maintain composure under the pressure, once again they'll be engulfed by the Boks. Good luck on Saturday, either way, its going to be a classic!

  • 79.
  • At 01:51 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

I can not believe the continuous tripe from individuals regarding how England play boring rugby and how its setting back rugby 20 years (previous idiots post). Rugby is a game of forwards and backs, of scrums and lineouts, of penalties and tries, and ultimately, of scoring more points than your opponent. BA has always stated that you play whats in front of you, whether that means going for a try, or a drop goal, or forcing the opposition into giving a penalty away through constant pressure, etc. Personally, I feel England are trying to play a more attacking form of Rugby but they are not as clinical as other sides. However, in the end, winning is what matters and England are just one game away from making history. So, all you sad individuals who, for whatever reason, begrudge England their place in the final, please grow up and admire a team that has shown more bottle and mental strength than the likes of NZ, Aus, Ireland and France. Come on England.

  • 80.
  • At 01:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Iggystan wrote:

#58 Alex
What sort of comparison is that?
Ben Johnson took drugs. That was OUTSIDE the rules of the sport in which he was competing. Are you suggesting that England are playing outside the laws of rugby?
There are several free resources on the internet explaining what is and is not legal in RU, perhaps your time would be better spend reading that material rather than spouting complete and utter cra*p.

  • 81.
  • At 01:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Fox wrote:

Derek Fallon.... what planet are you on... in the final purely on luck?? We have deserved to win both the Q/F and S/F as we wanted it more. Just because we dont score many tries and throw the ball around does not make us boring, i hate watching one sided games the best games of the tournament have been Eng v Aus - Fra v NZ - Eng v Fra becuase they were close and hard fought... if you want one sided games where 1 team looks good go watch the Scottish premier league..... now thats boring...

  • 82.
  • At 01:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

'journalists too wouldn't be human if their assessment was entirely unclouded by patriotism or the needs of the market they serve'.

No mate, they would be GOOD JOURNALISTS. Unlike childish sports bloggers.

  • 83.
  • At 01:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

U English supporters are so fickle. If I remember correctly u were all slagging your team just a few weeks ago, and now you all believe that you deserve to bring home the cup. Am a South African fan and believe that both teams have the potential to win this thing and that is why the final should be one of the best. There are positives about both teams and am sure the winners will deserve to hoist the cup. Wouldnt want it any other way. Good luck to both teams. Should be a great game.

  • 84.
  • At 01:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • mic wrote:

As an Irish fan (no it has not been a good world cup), lets just hope it is good final. Secondly lets hope that Will Grennwood is not let anywhere near a commentary box ever again. The commentary from the other channel has been poor throughout, but someone please tell Greenwood that he was actually commentating on SA vs Argentina last Sunday and England were not on the pitch at any stage. If i had just have been listening I would have thought it was England v France - the replay.

  • 85.
  • At 01:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Michelle wrote:

Anna Charlton mentioned Percys highlights earlier what about Beckham? He is a good player but also a very 'metrosexual' male and probably spends more time making himself pretty than most females do.
Thats got absolutely nothing do with how he plays.

Anyway BOKS TO WIN! They have been consistent and deserve to win. But England have been impressive and if SA lose they have still made us very proud!

  • 86.
  • At 01:57 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Green wrote:

Here we are England in the final of another World cup final, yes I will say it again ANOTHER world cup final and I can't beleive all the negative comments that have been in the media. Can't we just wallow in the glory of beating sides that were supposed to be to good and look forward to the final.
I can't see any other result than a win for England; South Africa have the talent but they lack the experience, belief and spirit.

  • 87.
  • At 02:01 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nickc wrote:

Derek Fallon-Ireland may have beaten England 6 months ago but I am pretty sure they wouldn't have a chance now. And I don't think you can compare the England side now with the one which played so badly against SA earlier in the tournament. And how exactly would a win (if it happens) based on pride, blood and guts, passion, commitment and team loyalty put rugby back 20 years. Surely these are good things and ones sides should be aspiring to? Am sure every coach in the world would agree with me.

  • 88.
  • At 02:02 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

England they are going to score, but it is unlikely to win against strong and well organised springboks

  • 89.
  • At 02:02 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Green wrote:

Right on Andy - No.75

  • 90.
  • At 02:07 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jack wrote:

"29. John Grint" - If SA wins they WILL be true world champions!

Let's face it, the best rugby team for the last 4 years are the All Blacks and to call yourself true world champions, you have to compare yourself against them, they are the bench mark!

If you look at the All Blacks results from 2004 to just before the start of the RWC, they only lost 5 games to 2 opponents - South Africa won 3 times & Australia twice. Also remember that there was a Lions tour in 2005 and they had tests against ALL the major rugby countries.

07/08/2004 23 Aus / 18 NZ
15/08/2004 40 SA / 26 NZ
07/08/2005 22 SA / 16 NZ
03/09/2006 21 SA / 20 NZ
30/06/2007 20 Aus / 15 NZ


And lastly, did England play against the All Blacks in this years RWC?

Doesn't matter who wins on Saturday, the winner will be worthy Champions!!!!

  • 91.
  • At 02:10 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Russell wrote:

As a Saffer I honestly can't predict who will win the final. There are so many different aspects to the game that could turn it either way. Don't think we've been particularly good in the quarters or semis but have come through and am hoping we are saving the best for last.

Agree that it really doesn't matter how you do it and England's games have been fantastic to watch despite the few tries. I couldn't care less if the final's a kickfest as long as we win.

Come on South Africa!

  • 92.
  • At 02:10 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • flightless wrote:

Max said: "The England Team and their fans EXPECT to win and PROCLAIM it all the time.... I think the pressure are more on THEM to live up to their BIG words."

I'm wondering which parallel universe you are living in, Max. As a Kiwi I have to say that I haven't heard or read a word to suggest that the England team expects to win (nor that that it expects to lose either. Well, what idiot would psych himself out of the match by thinking that?) It has, IMO, been nothing but humble and realistic. It has every right to some confidence after its superb comeback over the past few weeks but you imply an arrogance that simply is not there.

As for the fans, well they've been waiting for four years to have something to cheer about! Give them a break: what are they supposed to do? Carry on saying their team is hopeless? Hardly true, is it!

Also, I'd just like to add that in amongst all this talk of individual Bokke players being much better than individual England players we seem to be losing sight of the fact that this is a team game - and the England team has already proven itself to be much greater than the sum of its parts.

Go England!!!

  • 93.
  • At 02:11 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • SpringboksAllTheWay wrote:

Just a note to all ENG fans commenting about this is a perfect time for revenge after their humiliating 36-0 defeat by the springboks, just remember AUS who wanted to avenge the 2003 RWC final, and also NZ who wanted to avenge their loss to France in the 1999 semi, as those resuts have taught us, you should not be looking for revenge in the RWC.

And no its not cast in stone that your pack will dominate the forwards battle, they are the same group of guys that took on the Boks in the pool game, and we know how that ended.

  • 94.
  • At 02:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Felipe wrote:

Although I'm from Argentina and South Africa took rightfully our place on the finals I wish the best to the boks. Good luck South Africa!

  • 95.
  • At 02:13 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Adam (A Jock!) wrote:

What teams have South Africa bettered to get to the final?

Who have England had to overcome to get this far?

It's not over by a long shot.

  • 96.
  • At 02:16 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • michael wrote:

Well done England for getting this far. The spirit and determination shown has put our Irish team to shame and restored more than a little pride to the 6 Nations. Nevertheless I feel the final may be a bridge too far. England have a pack to match SA up front for 60 minutes, but not the whole match and the backline lacks the cutting edge that will be required.

  • 97.
  • At 02:16 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • shannon wrote:

The first try will win the game.

  • 98.
  • At 02:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Zane wrote:

All this we are the underdogs, we pull it of when it counts, we beat AUS & FRA is a load of garbage. England as I recall are the defending champs, ARG would be a team more worthy of the title underdogs. Granted England have been plagued with injury of their apparent entire one man team (Wilkinson). From all this I can only make the English to be nothing but a bunch of load mouthed louts, comparable to the arrogance of the American populace. Im hoping for a close game this weekend, but after reading these comments, I hope the English get a hiding.

  • 99.
  • At 02:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alex wrote:

I keep hearing it's a 50:50 match. It's not. SA are a far superior outfit with talent all over the park. Speed and strength and ruthless accuracy in all their key positions. They are going to murder us, except there is this niggling little voice in the back of my head that's been there for the last 2 weeks saying "We couldn't just bl**dy well win this, could we? We couldn't just nick this one?". If any one can. England can.

PS If the only comment you have to make is to correct spelling or use of words then please reserve your correspondence for someone who cares. This is a rugby forum, not school. I know what they mean.

  • 100.
  • At 02:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • RedRose17 wrote:

Post 52 - Justin

You and Derek Fallon clearly have a number of things in common, uppermost of which is a total lack of understanding about international Rugby.

Please keep your absurd drivel to yourself next time.

  • 101.
  • At 02:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nicolas wrote:

what a bunch of arrogant english guys who have only negative things to say for the SA team. Stats my friends says it all and final or no final SA is gonna give you at least 20 points remember this........You think you know it all.....Dont forget we won it in 1995 against NZ ,,,so we know what pressure is all about/...........GO YOU BOKKE

  • 102.
  • At 02:22 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paddy Macken wrote:

Derek Fallon wrote:
"England are in the final purely on luck. They play a style that would make watching paint dry more interesting. Ireland beat them 43-13 six months ago and SA beat them 36-0 three weeks ago. If they did by some miracle win it would set Rugby back 20 years".

An ill-though out comment, serving no purpose other than as a personal grip and moan - If you're English you should be ashamed of yourself. If not, then I see the reason for the whinge!

Derek, you can spout this rubbish till the cows come home and if England win, no-one will care what you think anyway..! :-)

Personally, I prefer to think positively and appreciate the fact that the England lads worked hard as a group to get there at all.

My lad pays for Clifton under 11's and I am involved with the junior league and tournament set-up in the South-West. We have seen an enormous increase in young lads desperate to learn and improve since 2003. If England win, please tell me how another huge influx of young hopefuls can be deemed as "Setting Rugby back 20 years".

Derek, I await your response.

  • 103.
  • At 02:24 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • AR wrote:

My only hope for the final is that Will Greenwood is not in the commentary box and preferably not in the country. If I can just be granted this small wish, I will be a happy man.

  • 104.
  • At 02:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Aphra wrote:

"U English supporters are so fickle. If I remember correctly u were all slagging your team just a few weeks ago, and now you all believe that you deserve to bring home the cup."

If we'd been saying a few weeks ago that we deserved to bring home the cup then we would also have deserved to be sectioned, and you no doubt would have been mocking our misplaced optimism.

Things change mate. Sometimes slowly sometimes faster than you can spit. A few week ago the England team was derisory and we derided them. Today they look like winners and there are expectations that go with that.

Harping on about the past - even the recent past - is futile and produces specious arguments. It's what's going on now that counts.

  • 105.
  • At 02:27 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • david wrote:

No all english fans wern't slagging off the team a few weeks ago. You could hear them singing sweet chariot at the end of the SA game. We were concerned but still wear the t shirt, sing the songs and follow the team no matter what!!

  • 106.
  • At 02:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • brian wrote:

It "should" be a great game between two sides which were a bit (in England's case more than a bit) under-rated when the tournament kicked off. "Should" is the operative word, though- my fear as a neutral is less that it will be an attritional forward battle because that has its own fascination for the true afficionado but that the game could just degenerate into a brawl. Both sides have key men who're going to be singled out for close attention by the opposition (the two scrum halves, Wilkinson, Montgomery, Habana, Robinson) and neither is backward in coming forward in the physical side of things. I hope Mr Rolland will get a firm grip on things from the off even if that means a couple of yellow cards in the first twenty minutes- better that than letting lots go and finally producing a card which turns the game late on for an offence no worse than half a dozen committed earlier (which was what Walsh did in the SA/Arg semi-though in that case too late to make much difference).

  • 107.
  • At 02:30 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • JonS wrote:

I cannot wait for this final. Both teams fully deserve to be there purely for the fact that they have beaten the teams placed in front of them when it matters.

It's obvious that the South Africans are favourites to win, as were the French and the Aussies against the English, but I think this will be a real close, intense match in a similar vein to the France-England match. It's too big a stage for either side to starting throwing the ball around unless it's 100% on.

At the end of the day, the best team on Saturday will undoubtedly deserve to win the trophy.

  • 108.
  • At 02:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

nicolas....what has 1995 got to do with 2007

yes your 1995 team knew what pressure was all about but do your 2007 team?!

and if you actually read the comments a lot of people are trying to find weaknesses in the SA team, and most you will find have an air of respect for the players and have to concede that they have an amazing team....but what sort of fans would we be if we didnt back up our own team

I have said this before and i will say it again....this is SA's cup to lose as much as its englands to win. It's not me being arrogant (despite the complete irony of your post being incredibly arrogant) its just me stating truth, SA SHOULD win it, but thats the problem, and i have a sneaking suspicion they wont

  • 109.
  • At 02:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bannockburn1314 wrote:

11. You're really kidding yourself aren't you. England are the Germany of rugby? No they are the England of rugby - have won precisely one world cup at both sports and play the same dull style, while massively underachieving considering the numbers that play the game in your country. You'll have to do a hell of a lot more winning before you can consider yourselves the "West Germany of rugby".
After SA thrash you, the England media will no go into their predictable cycle of naval gazing and lamenting before once more launching into their "we're the best in the world" mode the next time you win a game

  • 110.
  • At 02:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nick spice wrote:

England have just played 4 world knock out games and won them all. This included 2 of the Cup favourites and our arch rivals and one of them had home advantage.

Englands performances in those games were immense. We should have beaten the Aussies by 10 plus more points.

SA have not had a hard game all tournament (including England at their worst). Beating FIJI and Argentina is not the hardest route on the planet. The FIJI game at one stage was very close indeed and the Argies made so many mistakes it was easy for SA.

England are on a roll and how many times in sport history does a team start slowly/badly then peak at the right time (Italy in world Cup Footie for eg.

I think England will win 17-10 or thereabouts.

Final thought. English Fans and SA fans will be watching the final to see if THEIR teams wins.Sadly for them most Australian,New Zealand, Welsh, Scottish and Irish fans will be watching and analysing from a neutral point of view.

Enough Said

  • 111.
  • At 02:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Baxter_13 wrote:

"Liquidize your assets..."

Well spotted !!!

I'll have an Wallaby Burger with a side portion of French Fries... and for desert....?? let's hope it's a Springbox smoothy!!!!!


  • 112.
  • At 02:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Corne van Vuuren wrote:

It is important for even us fans to try our level best to be objective in our way of thinking(we only lie to ourselves otherwise)

If we are going to forget about the 36-0 drubbing england got then we have to forget about everything else as well.
How will England win this match?
1. dominate with the forwards at scrumtime,rucks,mauls and lineouts.
2. Wilkinson must have a sound tactical kicking game.
3. Forwards must protect wilkinson to have sufficient time for dropgoals.
4. forward dominated drives and keeping close to the pack in redzone of Boks to score tries.
5. No mistakes
How will the Boks win?
1. Counter the english at scrum time.
2. contest lineouts and use mauling only to get english backline on the backfoot then play wide(not in own half)
3. Burger, and Du preez put pressure on the english 9,10
4. Butch will have to be on song with tactical kicking into corners for lineouts
5. keep watch over referee's input as that can cause problems.


the biggest concern for the boks are scrumtime, if they counter that they should win

  • 113.
  • At 02:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Iggystan wrote:

nicolas #90:
If you know what arrogance is then maybe you should reflect on the irony of your comment.

  • 114.
  • At 02:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alex wrote:

As a S.African I just want to say that our boys in green & gold have made us proud. They've played with heart and a fervour that did not exist a few years ago. Likewise the English have shown what they're capable of when put in the trenches and have impressed the world many times over with their inspiring performances. Time to give credit where it's due and focus on the game. CAN'T WAIT !!!!!!!!

  • 115.
  • At 02:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

If South Africa really play, they will win, but let's face it nobody ever 'plays' in a World Cup Final. People are slagging off all the kicking and the tough defences at this world cup, but remember Cape Town? Ping pong, territorial kicking and a nerve jangling wait for the winning drop goal. So this is nothing new. Nobody dares throw the ball around when the Cup is at stake.

That suits England because we aren't confident enough to throw it around anyway. But the Springboks have a dilemma. If they sit back, Jonny might beat them. They've been waiting for mistakes and counter-attacking, but if we give them the ball and tackle the way we've been tackling, they will have to try to find a way through. They will either run it and wear us down, or they will run out of patience and kick it, which is the game we want them playing.

South Africa are the stronger side, with the more potent finishing, but if England play tight and edge it in the forwards, it will be another titanic struggle just like the last two.

Could go either way, but I suspect it depends more on how the Springboks play, rather than how England plays.

  • 116.
  • At 02:50 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Too many numpties post on these boards! So people are saying that because the Boks run it a bit more and generally have better players they deserve to win, is that it? So you all think that NZ deserved the 1995 RwC?? They had much better players and played a running game...anyone agree???? Thought not!

SA will deserve to win only after they put more points on the board than us, end of.

As for the pool game well we had no fly half, a couple of unfit props, Rees at seven was out of his depth (though he will improve), our best player by a mile limped off, the coaches tactics were woeful (using a long drop out game), the scrum half for that game was well and truly dropped for a better one plus all our backs seemed to want to be the worst kicker on the field.....and finally Joel Judge (ironic name for a crap ref) will not be the referee. There are still decisions he gave to the Boks in that game that I still don't understand after 20 years following the game.

36-0 it was and it was humiliating watching it in St Denis with a particulary obnoxious French woman behind me but that is gone. The only relevance it has for this game is it may make the Boks players a little more arrogant than they are already and it will put that little bit more fire into bellies of the England pack!!

If when the pressure is fully on and the Boks don't fold or lose their tempers and win then good luck to them and I'll drink to that but if they don't I'll drink a darn sight more.

  • 117.
  • At 02:55 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Blah blah blah. Form before this world cup means nothing. That's why we are where we are. If we play better on the day, we'll win.
Serve it cold, Lads.

The force is with England now. They are playing like a team with nothing to lose who can hardly believe they have managed to get the final.

If SA are to win, they will need to break England in the first half and get a good lead. If England manage to keep within a few points with 20 minutes to go, the pressure will come down on SA (who are favourites).

SA are the team under pressure to win this game and we've see what pressure does to teams like France, NZ and Aus. Throwing the ball around and smashing opponents suddenly doesn't look so attractive.

  • 119.
  • At 02:57 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Big Al wrote:

Well my nails are gone, but I can say that I'm very proud of the turnaround by the English team. It has been a tough few weeks (okay a tough 4 years) but they have managed to pull off the unthinkable and get themselves into a position to pull off a minor miracle. In their way is what I consider to be one of the most dangerous and skillful teams in the World. On paper SA should win. My head is in agreement, my heart hopes for an upset. Most of all I hope that we have a spectacle worthy of a World Cup Final. Good luck to both teams.

  • 120.
  • At 02:57 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Adam 'Soupiel' Hodgson wrote:

Rather than setting the game back 20 years; It is a guaranteed fact that an England win will again encourage thousands of youngsters to enter the game, rather than dreaming of being over-paid, prima donna, perma diving footballers. Hopefully the same will happen in RSA so that their team can start to reflect the population through skill coming through the ranks, rather than political interference. Politicians stay out of sport!

  • 121.
  • At 02:58 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nickc wrote:

nicolas-just exactly how many guys in the currant SA squad played in the '95 final? Most of the posts on this blog have been about supporting your country-not necessarily being arrogant. I concede the point that some of the English ones have been a bit arrogant but I hardly think that, given the tone of your post, you can complain about that! I hope you will be eating humble pie come Sunday but if SA win then it will be me tucking in.

  • 122.
  • At 03:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robbo72 wrote:

I cannot believe the attitude of some people on this blog. To call England boring when Argentina have clearly been playing in at least as boring a fasion all WC (imo more so) but cos it's England everyone draws attention to us. I agree with Dallagio when he says we have played more rugby in the Qf and SF than oz and Fra. I think the sight of Robinson running in broken play is one of the most beautiful sights in the game and if it happens just once in a fantastically tight game it makes it all the more special. The fact that England have clearly dealt with pressure better than any team in the comp (bar SA, we haven't seen how they'll react in a really tight game) makes them worthy winners. I'm not going to be so arrogant as to predict an Eng win (no doubt such a prediction would be regarded as classic English arrogance by SH bloggers) but i will say that Eng players (just over Arg) should be regarded as heroes for the huge courage they have displayed. If Eng lose on Saturday i will (as the majority of Eng rugby fans will) be gracious in defeat and congratulate SA. Uuuuhhhhhhh and i'm spent.

  • 123.
  • At 03:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Well done to both teams for getting to the final.

The match will be won by the team that has the most self belief and control. They are both closely matched in the pack, and that is where the ball will be won. England have built very strong self belief and have momentum in this area. SA are a good side but tend to be arrogant and expect to win - that is their real weakness. Many of these England players have been in the final before and that counts when push comes to shove and the pressure is on. SA will bottle it at key moments and watch out for their frustration. They will surely show it and they will give away needless penalties. Its all in the head - get the head right and the body obeys. I just hope that whoever loses the battle shows respect and valour in defeat. That is why Rugby Union is such a great game.

  • 124.
  • At 03:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

Oh my goodness gracious me. I have never read such utter kak about England rugby since the '99 world cup when SA demolished England. You all speak of experience determination etc. Yes, England have made a great turnaround since another hiding by SA but do you honestly think they deserve to beat South Africa who have been unbeaten this world cup - who have the higherst try scorer for the tournament and highest points scorer.
Yes England have fought back and managed to catch France and Australia on bad days... and once again that is what they have to rely on. 3 times not so lucky I'm afraid. All you England supporters have done is live up to the reutation of being a bunch of winging Poms. Perhaps it's because you're like a flock of sheep and are influenced by what the press say. Lets be realistic here and take all the if's and but's out of Saturday's final... Almost every comment posted by an English has had an if or a but leading to their prediction. Stop hoping and open your eyes and realise that England dreaming!!!-

  • 125.
  • At 03:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • C Bran wrote:

all the talk is about johnny wilkinson - i think butch james has been one of the most impressive flyhalves at this world cup - he has shut out johnny wilkinson before and i dont see why he shouldn't do it again.

sure johnny kicked england to victory against france - but he had a poor game for 70 minutes.
SA will not allow a flyhalf to play poorly for 70 minutes and get away with it - ask argentinas hernandez.
My prediction SA 28 - Eng 12

  • 126.
  • At 03:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Joss 'The Guv'ner' Price wrote:

Can any Saffas out there tell me why Jake White always walks around scowling? My friend said it's because the biltong he's always chewing on is actually dried Kudu excrement.

Your thoughts?

  • 127.
  • At 03:09 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • richie rich wrote:

We should not lump the Saffers in with Aus and NZ. They do take stick from those two teams, and are only seen as making up the numbers in the Tri Nations, which is more about Bledisloe than anything else. If we are to lose, I would far rather lose to SA than almost any other team, and I'm afraid that is why we are so likely to lose. Bring on the 8 Nations, with Arg and SA joining the great 6. We'll have a virtual World Cup every year, and we can leave NZ and Aus to discuss how splendid they looked as they contested their sacred Bledisloe Cup.

Cone on England, it's not impossible, and it's great for rugby that the other two SH sides departed good and early.

  • 128.
  • At 03:10 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Grim determination can only get you so far....

  • 129.
  • At 03:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dan 'Roykop' H. wrote:

I have to agree wholeheartedly with 'Soupiels' wise comments (number 59). Both teams should feel immensely proud to have made the final of a fantastic competition. I'm just glad that it is two sides who haven't resorted to having to criticise their opponents at any point during the tournament, something which cannot be said for certain members of other sides. Perhaps they feel the need to do this, in order to deflect from the weaknesses within their own gameplans?

Q: What do you call the playoff for 7th and 8th place?
A: The Bledisloe Cup.

And finally, to all those going to Paris for the final (the Hoopers mostly), I say bonjour lads, bonjour indeed.

  • 130.
  • At 03:13 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chops wrote:

I think SA and England play a very similar game, tight defence and waiting to pounce on the opposition's mistakes. Of course, this makes for very tight games when the oppositions makes no glaring errors! France made 1, try. The Argentines made far too many actually trying to play a 15 man game and got punished by SA - how many of those tries were actually through the ingenuity of the SA backs?

If this will be a purely forward based game, England will shade it, the SA scrum was coming apart against Argentina. It might also be worth targetting Burger, whose temperament gets more suspect every time I watch him. However, if SA can impose themselves then they have more than enough talent to carve up the English backline, especially Habana, Montgomery and their no 12 whose name escapes me at the moment. Can see a lot of garryowens aimed at Pietersen though.

  • 131.
  • At 03:14 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

@ comment 71

SA were "gifted" their tries because the other side was under so much pressure!

It is the same when the English commentators said we were winning because of Argentinian mistakes make those mistakes when the stakes are high and the pressure is on...and that is when the team that makes less mistakes has the edge ............I guess when SA beats England it will just be luck.........

  • 132.
  • At 03:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • jlc wrote:

Refer to John Grint (#29)

Surley the team that deserves to win the world cup has to be the team that wins all their matches? The only reason why England played against better opposition than SA was because you lost against us in the group stages. Also don't forget that thet we played against Arg because the won aginst France. As a proud Bok supporter I have to admidt that if we win on Saterday, we may well be World Champs, but NZ will still be the best team in the world. The same goes for you.

Maybe that is why everbody else in the world wants you to lose, because you also think you are the best when you're not!!!

I hope you to see an SA win, but Eng have a very good chance, because they have a better front row and a better flyhalf, but thats that. SA player are better in every other dept.

Good luck to the Boks

  • 133.
  • At 03:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Joss Price wrote:

Does anyone have the name and number of Dallagio's PR agent? The balding, washed up old cart horse can't even get in the starting XV yet shoe-horns his way into every interview, paper and celebratory World Cup supplement.

It's like watching a former Big Brother contender tragically refuse to surrender the limelight. Only with a bigger chin and arse.

  • 134.
  • At 03:24 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • alfie noakes the 2nd. wrote:

Just come back from watching both matches.... top w/end.

However, the bok fans are an embarrassment to the spirit of rugby.... no singing, no atmosphere, no passion. Live, the final will be a boring affair as there will be nobody to have a crack with, no friendly banter, no singing, just raw aggression and arrogance.

To the French I salute you.... a top night was had by all and I am certain of this if England had lost the night would have been just as good.

Just in case you are going to the final you will need to know the words of the only SA song...

Bok Bok Bok........ good isn't it????


  • 135.
  • At 03:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mark D - Bodmin wrote:

Obviously being English myself I want England To Win. But I can't see us scoring trys against SA. But I can see SA scoring more than one try with a better set of backs,especially Habana. Johney may keep us in the game with his boot, but if the weather is bad, we shouldn't bank on this. SA will win by 15 pts

  • 136.
  • At 03:25 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

nicolas post #102

Yes you won in 95 and politically it was beautiful but you didn't score a try..... (which has been labelled at England more times than I can be bothered to remember, even though we scored more than the French in the semi and Oz only managed one in the Quarters but heh why let the truth ruin a good argument)........and I think the MAJOR FOOD POISONING of the NZ team before the final had at least a slight bearing on things!

  • 137.
  • At 03:26 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • A Welsman in Paris wrote:

As a disappointed Welshman I will be in Paris this weekend cheering on the England team and I expect them to win the final.

Before the quater final the England teams chosen failed to impress because they were not seen to be working as a team. Since then they have addressed that problem (whether by accident or by insperation is uncertain) and they are now beginning to operate to their full potential, both as individual players and as a team.

This England squad does have enough good players to match and beat the South African's especially now they have found that once missing ingredient, self belief.

So come on England "Good luck" and let's have another party.

A Welshman in Paris

  • 138.
  • At 03:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

It has been fantastic reading the comments of the English fans, and one gets the feeling that they trying get themselves and their team to"believe" they can win. Both teams deserve to be in the final because they have done the business when it had to be done. For South Afrcans we remain positive because we know with no doubt that our team " believe" they can win on the day and if there is a nation that is single minded when there is goal to be had, its South Africans because nobody gives us things for free. Come Saturday a great final to be had, and what a fantastic RWC it has been.

  • 139.
  • At 03:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • meltonism2 wrote:

Forget the 36-0 loss. Forget the summer tour in SA. This is effectively a "One off" game where 2 sides are 80 mins from glory (they won't even think about losing or they wouldn't be there). I think that Alan Roland will be a big factor as he will control lets say "SA's eccentricities" in the scrum. To be honest we (Eng and SA) have had our fortunate moments in the previous games. We could have lost if the Aussies would have kicked their penalty and if Joe Worsley hadn't made that tap tackle, France would be playing on Saturday and not Friday. Just as the wrong bounce kept SA in the cup against Fiji. I believe that SA will need to get points on the board early and then keep us at bay, because if we are close, they will get nervous and with the likes of Oz Durrant will get tired. If we stop them doing that we have a chance. I have predicted every game in the world cup correctly except SA v Arg (that cost me a packet) but in all honesty I couldn't call this one. As I said it's a "one off" and it's too close to call.

  • 140.
  • At 03:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Butter Ball wrote:

Could Hodgson post 120 get on and do some work and make up his mind on who he's supporting SA or the Mighty Whites.

  • 141.
  • At 03:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • anonymous wrote:

I am REALLY grtting fed up of some of the views here!

I am an absolute England Rugby fanatic, as are most england fans who post views on here. I have been saying since the tri nations that South Africa would win the world cup. I have not seen anything in this tournament, to suggest they are not favorites in the final.

This is not detracting from the fact that I will be supporting England 100% on saturday. Words cannot express how proud I am of these heroes in white who have time and again defied the odds in this world cup. The fact that in the latest world rankings England are now ranked THIRD, coupled with the fact that even I thought that they would only get to the 1/4 finals has meant that over the last 4 weeks they have made me scream and jump for joy and feel a surge of pride everytime I wear the England shirt. That is a feeling I have not felt in a long time. Reaching the final, to me, really is the stuff of dreams.

My head says South Africa to win, but all the time my team, England, are in the final I will be shouting and cheering my team on with pride and passion.

Until the final whistle blows and the medals are handed out, my heart will ALLWAYS tell me England will win. That is the team I support after all. If we do not, I will still have a smile and still be just as proud of the 15 players as I am now.

What is so wrong or "arrogant" about that?

  • 142.
  • At 03:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • jlc wrote:

One more interesting fact:

In 1995 Aus lost in the QF, in 1999 they won the world cup. In 1999, Eng lost in the QF but in 2003 they won the world cup. SA lost in 2003 in the QF and here we are in the finals... I hope history repeats itself.

Another intersting thing is that Eng eliminated Aus in 2003, Eng lost to SA in 1999 and SA lost to NZ in 2003 and guess what: NZ lost the QF in 2007...

  • 143.
  • At 03:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Smokejack wrote:

first the praise

England deserve credit for having the mentality to turn things around after the thrashing from South Africa and even if they lose in the final they have, in my opinion, exceeded expectations.

Now the reality. England's style of rugby is awful to watch and there are players being hyped to death and labelled 'world class' when it's patently not true. Jonny wilkinson has been off form for probably 9-10 games yet he's still being considered as a god. He has missed more place kicks and tackles in this world cup than he's probably done for the last 5 years. He is a fantastic defensive player with a great boot but he is not in world class form. Josh Lewsey I think was lucky to keep his place as he hasn't been playing particularly well of late. Mike Catt was a stupid selection when there are enough good quality youngsters out there who deserved a shot. Corry is just a poor man's Dean Richards and again I think lucky to keep his place.

England have ridden their luck and got to the final it wasn't pretty nor adventurous but they are there. However, I cannot see them turning around such a difference in points against South Africa and I honestly think the boks play a far more attractive game of rugby and have far better backs than England.

If England (or indeed the Boks)win without scoring a try it'll be a damning indictment of the state of international rugby and it will not attract more people to watch the game. I will be rooting for the Boks but if England were to open up and play an attacking game I'd be just as happy to see them win. I just can't see them being that adventurous though.

Finally, could Dallaglio get any more arrogant? He's is talking to the press as if he's played in every game, captained the team and scored all the points! He's a bit player past his best and shouldn't have been selected. Still at least his desperate search for a media contract might pay off although he'll be a bore to listen to.

  • 144.
  • At 03:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Laurence Windo wrote:

So if England win will you, as an Englishman, be happy?....and as a journalist, resign?

  • 145.
  • At 03:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • doctormatt wrote:

i fear the worst on saturday
- can england raise their game AGAIN on saturday ?
as far as the SA front row are concerned, they may not be the brute force of yesteryear, but they are a canny bunch (including du randt), and i'm not sure the scrum will be as important a battle as in the QF. lineout may be key, and here Matfield is awesome.
dupreez is also brilliant.
weak points for SA include James at fly-half, but apart from this and a few dodgy hairstyles, they are a talented team, though have yet to play any one REALLY good.
i think SA by 10 points, but i'm the bloke who put £10 on scotland to reach the semi-finals
c'mon england!!!

  • 146.
  • At 03:43 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

May i say that i disagree that Jonny Wilkinson is the greatest kicker the world has ever seen as mentioned on this blog. I think everyone forgets a certain Neil Jenkins who is far superior to wilkinson of the tee. The man scored over a thousand points for Wales and the Lions and played in some of the worst welsh teams in living memory. If Guscott had not strode in front of him in 1997 to pinch that winning drop goal against the boks, when jenks was lined up maybe he would be remembered as being an even better player than people realise

  • 147.
  • At 03:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bogged Eyed Bill wrote:

It seems that people are forgetting that any nation reaching a world cup final inspires the majority. Britain as a whole should be proud that England has overcome the odds to make the final. Hopefully an inspiring performance from England will encourage more youngsters into doing some form of exercise and being involved in team games. Sport is fundamental to a nation’s confidence and health and brings people together. Australia has invested impressive amounts of money in their sports facilities and generally excel on the world stage. They are a proud nation and rightly so. I also imagine that per capita their ‘health bill’ is far less than ‘fatty Britain’s’. It is a sad reflection on the Scottish that a percentage of them will be supporting South Africa… whilst no doubt munching on some deep fired mars bars, drinking Tenants extra strength and singing ‘Flower of Scotland’. I hope for a great game and, of course, England to win (by a cricket score)

  • 148.
  • At 03:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dean wrote:

Robbo72, it's all to do with expectations. Argentina have no domestic professional league and no annual tournament against the other big nations. England have the richest governing body and the most registered players in the world, have been playing the game longest and play all of the top teams at least once every 2 years. With all of these advantages, that they haven't evolved beyond a 10-man game is a very sad indictment indeed. (But it's an even sadder indictment on Australia and France that they were unable to overcome such a limited team.)

As for the final, it comes down to 2 teams that rely largely on the mistakes of their opponents. The difference I see is that SA turn mistakes into 7 points, but England only 3, and that's where the game will be won.

  • 149.
  • At 03:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Peter Brooks wrote:

SA are a good team and if you let them stamp their authority on the game then they will punish you. This is also true of the all-blacks.

England will dominate the forward game and this will prevent the SA backs being able to play the way they want, SA have not played well under such pressure and will struggle against and England team.

All this talk of luck on both sides is true but in the most part its the kind of luck that you make for yourself through dominant play and self belief.
This england team will not be bullied into the mistakes that this requires whereas the boks have shown a tendancy to allow themselves to be durin recent matches.

So called beautiful running passing rugby only works when your opponent lets you play like that if it doesn't then you have to either force them to let you (not going to happen at a final) or play so called ugly rugby, which england have shown they can, SA haven't

  • 150.
  • At 03:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • evan wrote:

I think the english team has been very lucky. Australia only lost because they missed 3 penalties and 2 drop goals, any of these would have finished them and they would have had no answer for it. england didnt score against australia, south africa and only scored one try against france. This team is only on a win due to other teams shooting themselves in the foot. england would play new zealand in 2 weeks and lose 50 to 0.

  • 151.
  • At 04:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Saul wrote:

Well good luck to both sides for the weekend, as an avid englishman and supporter as well as being an amateur player, i wholly hope for an england victory.
Against Australia I thought we could win (remember they had no larkham and forward power) against France i thought we would lose but was gladly proved wrong.

SA though are a different outfit to both Aus and Fra, strong in the pack (especially the loose) and versatile in the backs with arguably the best scrum half in the game.

Who knows, whoever wants it most i suppose.

As for this being a boring English side, i think if you speak to most ex and current players of the game, its absorbing to watch the battle on the park and the little head to heads that appear. I think JW came off the park last saturday and stated he had never been is as much pain after a game. This is what rugby is about, heart, body and soul on the line for your team.

  • 152.
  • At 04:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Roland wrote:

I don't think England deserve to be in the final at all. They have been the worst world champions ever to grace the field of rugby. They hardly put any work in preparing for this world cup. Unlike the other teams like NZ France and Australia. I would put my money on any of those teams to beat England. England has been playing their final for the past 3 weeks and I just think that this game may be to far for them. England may say they will fight for every inch but they have to remember that both France and Australia had really poor games and they only won by a few points. I know they believe they can pull it of but I don't think they have the game to match South Africa. I don't think England can win the title but rather that South Africa will lose it.

South Africa has put a lot of work in preparing to play England in the pool stages and are well aware of what the team is capable of. I know they have gone of the boil during the pool stages and the early knock out rounds but Argetina was a good warm up to this final. They are fresher and better prepared.

But in fairness this has been one of the best world cup's ever and I'm glad England did make it through. Just shows you how fantastic this game is

  • 153.
  • At 04:05 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Pedros01 wrote:

Am i the only person around that thinks that Bryan Habana is not a rugby player, just a glorified runner? yes he does have a hell of a lot of pace on him, enough to deserve his place but if you look at him tactically he almost always goes for the interception and while this works sometimes, it not always comes off. if somebody had the common sense to put a little grubber kick through behind when he tries it, then he will be completely eliminated from the game. and as for percy montgomery the only tactic there is to pressure him with a high ball and then smash him as he hits the ground. simple. take out those 2 key players and the boks back line goes to pieces.

  • 154.
  • At 04:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cliff (Germany) wrote:

At the final of the rugby world cup you go back to basic rugby; playing percentage rugby and ball retention. A win is a win regales how you achieve it. No one will remember how the game was in the years to come (“expansive rugby” “open rugby” “fluid movement” – all sound bites). They will just remember that (hopefully) England won.

  • 155.
  • At 04:11 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paddy Macken wrote:

Taken from the Australian just a few moments ago...

"Connolly conceded the Wallabies had been caught by surprise by how aggressively England had attacked the breakdown during the quarter-final.

"Teams used to concede the breakdown," he said. "We didn't think England would do that. We thought they would go hard at it but we never expected the ferocity they showed there or the way they over-resourced the breakdown (flooding it with five or six forwards against the three or four Australia was committing).

"The message went out. At half-time we talked about it. We talked about little else but I'm not sure the message was getting through. I think the damage was done by that stage."

I think this speaks volumes. England caught the Aussies out big time with hard fought play - and isn't this one of the major aspects of the game? Gotta give England players that one.

  • 156.
  • At 04:13 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ireland wrote:

as much as i would like to see england win, it probably wont happen. i know english are going to say that it was also said england wouldnt beat oz or the french but this honestly is a different situation. montgomery's kicking is fabulous and will put jonny in the shade. the english style of rugby this wc has been obviously successful in getting them to the final but sa are able to defend and their scrum is excellent as well bryan habana's ability to tear any defence to pieces. england did really really well to get this far but theur lack of ability to score tries will cost them in the end. sa are the one team that managed to score tries regularly and even managed to score a few when playing "badly" against fiji. i'm supporting england but sa will win.

  • 157.
  • At 04:15 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Butter Ball wrote:

Getting married in a couple of weeks, future mother in law and father in law coming up to finalise arrangements for the big day, they'll probably ban me from marrying thier daughter when they realise I've jollied off to Paris for the weekend.

Come on England, for the sake of my future marriage!!

  • 158.
  • At 04:16 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rugby Genius... lol wrote:

As a rugby player myself, who likes to think he knows a bit about the game... for England to win they must;

1) Score more points than South Africa..........

  • 159.
  • At 04:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

If there's one thing this world cup has shown, it's that the outcomes are becoming very unpredictable. From what we've seen, it seems clear that pre-tournament form/talk is a poor predictor (Ireland, Oz, NZ),'minor' nations are no longer reading the gallant loser's script (Georgia, Fiji, Tonga), and it's easier to get the tactics wrong than right (France). One thing that is clear is that big-game psychology is critical. The key test is not whether South Africa have the ability, it's whether they can produce the mentality.

  • 160.
  • At 04:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • dan wrote:

Quick analysis:

the forwards are well matched.
the back give SA the edge
defence to England
try scoring abilty to SA
right man at the right moment: England

SA are favourites. The psychological edge some have talked about is over. England have come through too much to be bothered about that now.

If England score early or get 10pts ahead, then we'll have to see what SA is made of. If SA get ahead, the game could be over soonish.

as usual it will be decided in the pack, the breakdowns and taking your chnaces.

good luck teams

  • 161.
  • At 04:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

I am simply amased by some of the messages posted on this blog. The sheer arrogance and lack of humility disgusts me. I applaud Adam Hdgson who rightly points out that whichever country wins will reap the rewards of a successful touramnent and raise the profile of the sport in their respective countries. England have shown tremendous guts in turning poor results ito potentially a successful World Cup. SA on the other hand have shown the ability to finish teams off and appear to be pretty ruthless. Either way the game will be a cracker - both teams deserve a win - may it be the best team !

  • 162.
  • At 04:24 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dan 'Roykop' H. wrote:

It's so refreshing to read the inspired comments of Justine (no. 125). I suggest she may want to brush up on her spelling before attempting to slate the superb English supporters. I've heard of the phrase whinging poms before, but never winging poms? Is it maybe referring to the fact that England will be soaring high above the rest of the world when we are crowned world champions......again.

  • 163.
  • At 04:27 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ross G wrote:

I'm English so I want England to win, do I think we will win? I don't want to answer, I think on our day we could beat SA, but SA are one of the best, if not the best, teams out there at the moment.

  • 164.
  • At 04:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Carior wrote:

South Africa have the better players, play the better rugby and are a more "drilled unit" and on paper should win!

But there is 2 things paper can't account for.

1. The rub of the green, key decisions etc etc.

2. The head and the heart, England have beaten two World Class sides in Australia in France, they have dug deep into their hearts and their personal desire to win, their sheer grit and determination has dragged them kicking and screaming into a World Cup final and in knock-out rugby anything can happen!

Can England stump up that courage and grit after what must have been two of the most emotionally draining weeks in their careers, we shall see.

What i do know is that if England are with 6-10 with 25 mins ish left that i know who i would fancy and i know that if i were wearing a green shirt at that time the nerves would be jangling whenever England were within the SA half because, when it matters Jonny steps up and kicks England over the line.

Will it happen??

I will tell you on Sunday!

  • 165.
  • At 04:33 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • charlie wrote:

Allez Les Blanc...have some passion for your country man.

  • 166.
  • At 04:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ireland wrote:

no 154- habana a glorified runner- absolutely ridiculous. he tears defences apart with his strength and agility. i think it' s jealousy on your part. as for the issue on luck, well you have to ride on it and england did do just that. all the teams were lucky if that's the case- france lucky against nz, england lucky that the ref made sure nz didnt beat france because like it or not nz would hammer them and anyone, bad wc or not, sa were lucky against fiji, argentina were lucky against france, ireland were lucky that they were sent home before it got any worse, scotland were lucky against italy, etc etc. see how ridiclous these lucky comments are- every team would have an issue if that was the case.

  • 167.
  • At 04:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Johny wrote:

Boks 36 Eng 0 ouch!

  • 168.
  • At 04:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Gilbert wrote:

While it's foolish not to accept that the Springboks are favourites for Saturday's game and undeniable that they have yet to be beaten it might be worth remembering Justin (125) that their opponents in the Knockout stages where Fiji and Argentina. SA's toughest opposition, on paper, has been England, and yes the Boks handed out a 36-0 hiding. This time around the England 15 have their first choice No.10 and a fully fit Jason Robinson with a pack who've just demolished the Wallabies AND the host nation, both of whom were busy thinking about their opponents in the next round. Whatever, I'm looking forward to cheering on an England team that didn't look like making it out of the group, never mind surviving a quarter- and semi-final. The Springboks' Coach thinks England will be routed. I'm delighted that so far the England camp have avoided the war of words. It's all very well SAYING you'll rout the opponent. DOING it is another matter.

  • 169.
  • At 04:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy Wright wrote:

S.Africa must be favourites - like Australia and France were. England have nothing to lose - and everything to win. We need luck, the backs to actually score some tries (or just one) and a great performance by everybody to really compete.

..but strangely as favouties we usually lose, but as underdogs we do well.

Miracle number 3 ????

Whatever happens 'the lads done great!'

  • 170.
  • At 04:55 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cornish Legend wrote:

Dallaglio is like the yanks in WW2, he comes in right at the end and claims complete responsibility for our wins!

Gareth Thomas might be needing his outstanding PR person though soon if the latest rumours I've heard are true ...

Also comment 147 - Gareth, I'm not sure whether you comments about Neil Jenkins being the best kicker ever stand up against Wilkinson. I doubt many people would would argue with you if you changed "best kicker" to "ugliest player"!
Go England!

  • 171.
  • At 04:55 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • MikeB wrote:

I think the boring/ugly Rugby topic can be dropped now…. That is predominantly an Ausie and NZ opinion, lets agree to disagree on that one, we are still in it, they are not.

The ‘anyone but the English’ attitude seems to be on the wane, perhaps our Antipodean friends have lost interest now they’ve been out for a couple of weeks.

The French lost graciously, the sour grapes were few and far between – hats off to them.

South Africans have generally about as arrogant about their Rugby side as us English are about ours – which is not very arrogant at all.

Both teams are there on Merit, and they both deserve respect for that, and they both have a chance.

The beauty of sport, to conjure such conversation and opinion, isn’t this what it’s all about. Although, some of the comments on here are simply drivel;

“a win is not a win, look at ben Johnson”
“Patriotism is for Morons”
“England are there Purely on luck”

To those who have no patriotism for you own countries (whatever country that might be) I pity you, hang your heads!

And may the best team (on the day) retain the world Cup! ;)

  • 172.
  • At 04:55 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • macca wrote:

As a neutral - after the All Blacks screwed up. This looks like a really interesting final.

Personally, I think the ref will play a big part. As a Northern Hemisphere ref, I would expect England to do better out of the ref. Not because of bias but because of a better understanding of the man and the rule book he will apply.

The Boks have a history of a lack of discipline in really tough games. I expect at least one of them to spend time in the bin. Clearly, the result of that 10 minutes will be crucial to the game and Englands chances.

I also expect that Percy will not perform with the boot in this game as well as he has been. Percy has plenty of experience these days and is less vulnerable than he was in earlier years, but even he hasn't been on this big a stage before and it will get to him - 65% with the boot max.

The English forward pack is obviously key to the England team winning the game. There were some moments in the Argentina game where the Boks forwards were getting pushed around in the scrum - this will have given the England pack great heart going into this game. Also, the protection of JW by the back three is crucial. The boks will target the little man. He never shirks a tackle which is how I expect them to get at him and you don't want Johnny making that many tackles against the big boks loose forwards.

If England win it, I expect that it will be a repeat of the Australia and France games with a no more than 5 point margin - with a nervous last 5 minutes. The only kind of try I can see the English scoring is a forward led effort.

For the South Africans to win, they will really need to up their game in terms of clearing the rucks and mauls. They don't want a lot of scrums in this game, but they do want line outs. Expect a lot of kicking from Butch and Percy to the corners. If they get this right England are in for a bad day.

If the Boks win this it will be by at least 10 points. I expect that they will score try's, although unlike some I don't see them as that inventive in the back division. They have a great finisher in Habana, but their lines are generally not straight enough to give this guy the space he needs. I don't think Habana will score in this game but I can see the half back and stand off sniping one.

I think for the Boks to win this game, they will need to get in front early - if this is a 3 point game at half time, I think England have it.

If I had to pick a winner, it would be the Boks but I would not feel confident about it. I think this might be a game too far for the English. But, they have masses of experience and heart and there is no place this matters more than in final.

You'd have to be fool to bet on this game.

  • 173.
  • At 04:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Beef wrote:

i belive that sa will win because they have the worlds fastest winger, a good pack and a good kicker (when he wants to be) it will be a tough match but def do able.

england also have a good chance but if sa can keep the ball from johnny then they wont get the odd 3 points, and with there long passes easy for th two south africa winger to intercepd and score a try.

for life S.A.R.C

  • 174.
  • At 04:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • cammy wrote:

I cannot remember the name of the ref for the moment, but his style of reffering should help us in the sense that he is extremly quick to penalise infringements on the ground such as not releasing, not rolling away or 'sealing' as SH teams tend to do, but it could come and bit us if we do the usual tactic of building the wall, with him it will either be a quick ball game which could hurt us, or a game full of penetlys conceeded in our favour due SA killing the ball as they do a lot

  • 175.
  • At 05:01 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

Justin, post #125 Your inaccurate tirade suggests you totally failed to read the posts your complaining about. I don't think anyone has suggested that the determination the English team has show makes them deserve to win. That they deserve respect, which they received from the fans, for it. And that it points towards an area in which England may have an edge.

Of course rational people are using ifs and buts. Only a total idiot would claim to be certain of victory in such a game. At least this means I presume you accept that the allegations of English fans being arrogant are rubbish. [Or are you claiming we are both arrogant and uncertain at the same time?]


  • 176.
  • At 05:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • henry longstaff wrote:

England will win because all their players are soooooooo sexy x

  • 177.
  • At 05:08 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Geoff wrote:

Johnathan - no 19 - has got it exactly right. Were the NZ v Italy or NZ v Portugal games good to watch - plenty of tries but I think not. There was no contest. If you want lots of tries this usually means one very good team has to play a poor team or a good team that's playing badly.
Matches between top sides should be down to inches, decision making (Sackey coming in from his wing to take Latham with a 3:1 overlap outside, Worsley's tap tackle, Johnie's tackle on Pelous ...) a few mistakes and a thought through game plan that the players have to adapt as they go along. This plan will include an analysis of the opponent's strengths and how they can best be nullified so that your team's stengths can be exploited. The excitement for me is seeing how each team works out how to better the opposition. We got it right against the Aussies and French, the French got it right against NZ but totally wrong against us. The key thing with the French was when their game plan went wrong they continued to play the wrong game, not helped but some very muddled thinking or misdirection by Laporte.
England have out-thought the Aussies and the French and Ashton and staff should get some credit for that - the team should get credit for putting the plan into action.
SA will not get the number of mistakes to feed off from us as they had when the Pumas tried to play too much "exciting" rugby too early. The Pumas play was littered with errors and SA scored tries off them - SA had worked out the Pumas lineout and fed off that too - but they created virtually nothing themselves. This is not exciting merely efficient rugby. Unfortunately there was no contest on Sunday - there will be on Saturday!!

  • 178.
  • At 05:09 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • ABanks wrote:

I find it incredible that so many have written of the last two England Games as boring! What on Earth were they watching? These are obviously people with no appreciation of the Game. Rugby is a contact sport. Those who complain about England's style of play have no respect for 'the dark arts', England employ Heart, courage, muscle, sweat and and sheer bloody guts! that is something to be proud of, we are fighters. The SH teams seem to want to win their games without getting their knees dirty and as soon as a NH team gets in their face they kak themselves and panic, hardly the attributes of men.
This is England's cup and will be for a few more days at least and they will not go down without a fight. Quite frankly what happens between the cups is of no relevance. Performing in the dress rehersals is of no use if when the curtain goes up you fall of the stage. England has more guts than any other team out there and they have proved it and it hurts others to admitt it because it makes them look small so call us all the names you want because you know deep down that you team is packed full of nothing!

  • 179.
  • At 05:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • RobP wrote:

In 2003, England were by far the best team in the tournament, yet they only just won the final. Now South Africa are seen as the top team and I suspect that, if they do win, it will be just as tight as it was 4 years ago.

I'm sure English and South African fans won't care how they win but, personally, I'd like to see an exciting game won by a team who have the courage to air the ball and bring the crowd to its feet.

Good luck to both teams - crouch, touch, hold, engage the audience.

  • 180.
  • At 05:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Troy wrote:

SA are gona be in a tight game, which will not go there way.

England have to match killers on the cards, 1. Wilko - a drop goal to win wouldn't be out of the question and 2. Jason Robinson - His last ever match, and he will want to go out in style, atleast one try for him.

England to win by 1-5 points.

  • 181.
  • At 05:22 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • English Scotsma wrote:

I find it funny how wrong everyone has been about the RWC. Ireland not making it past the group stage. Wales not making it past the group stage. Argentina topping a group containing France and Ireland. England beating Australia. NZ losing at any stage!

All I can say is I hope this craziness continues to Saturday. I don't give England much of a chance... but then, I haven't for the past two matches.

As you may have guessed from my name, I am Scottish and supporting England.

  • 182.
  • At 05:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hamish wrote:

It amazes me at the amount of banter going on here. Clearly there are a number of issues here that are not being focussed on.

A) its a world cup final - every team has an equal chance, no-one starts with points on the board.
B) Throughout the world cup, the UK media and some supporters (so-called) have taken the opportunist route to complain when the English side was down and rubbish the opposition when winning.

As far as I can remember, this is not what the ethos of Rugby is. Perhaps you should be taking a leaf out of the South Africans, who have respected all of theor opponents,win or loose and given them the credit that they dually deserve. The alternative is that you can carry on whinging, support football as your new game and talk about 1966.

I hope that the better team wins on the day, and to my mind that will be that team that has held its resolve and played with dignity and pride and is reflected in the sentiment of its supporters.

  • 183.
  • At 05:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Larry Lesard wrote:

It's great to share opinions and for the most part I am impressed with the SUPPORT for the respective teams and not just one-eyed jingoistic tripe. Some great points have been made, and it is refreshing to read many Englishman being realistic, though very supportive of their team.
Could go either way, of course, as one off pressure games are played on the levelest of playing fields and so much has to do with temperament. If England can stay within 5 points of the Boks or be ahead 10mins from the end, then the game could well be theirs. But the moment the Boks get ahead, their tails will be up and their opportunistic play kicks in.
Either way, a riveting final awaits us! Enjoy y'all!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 184.
  • At 05:33 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hamish wrote:

It amazes me at the amount of banter going on here. Clearly there are a number of issues here that are not being focussed on.

A) its a world cup final - every team has an equal chance, no-one starts with points on the board.
B) Throughout the world cup, the UK media and some supporters (so-called) have taken the opportunist route to complain when the English side was down and rubbish the opposition when winning.

As far as I can remember, this is not what the ethos of Rugby is. Perhaps you should be taking a leaf out of the South Africans, who have respected all of theor opponents,win or loose and given them the credit that they dually deserve. The alternative is that you can carry on whinging, support football as your new game and talk about 1966.

I hope that the better team wins on the day, and to my mind that will be that team that has held its resolve and played with dignity and pride and is reflected in the sentiment of its supporters.

  • 185.
  • At 05:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hamish the 1st wrote:

Alfie Noakes the 2nd, glad you enjoyed the weekend, but if you want to have sing songs..join a choir or the is not about pretty songs and hand-holding.

  • 186.
  • At 05:44 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bannockburn1314 wrote:

11. You're really kidding yourself aren't you. England are the Germany of rugby? No they are the England of rugby - have won precisely one world cup at both sports and play the same dull style, while massively underachieving considering the numbers that play the game in your country. You'll have to do a hell of a lot more winning before you can consider yourselves the "West Germany of rugby".
After SA thrash you, the England media will no go into their predictable cycle of naval gazing and lamenting before once more launching into their "we're the best in the world" mode the next time you win a game

  • 187.
  • At 06:06 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • chris mlynarczyk wrote:

Perhaps its because I'm a prop, but to me rugby is not about just chucking the ball around to win. I find the super 14 utterly boring - unless I'm watching a good SA team play. The Kiwis coming on the blogs over the last few weeks and anyone else whose been spouting this good of the game nonsense, just make me sick, what an utter load of nonsense. Rugby is a game of passion and spirit, thats what attracted me to the game when I was a young lad. And seeing the last two England games was absolutely fantastic - thats what rugby is about.

Would love England to win, but if SA win, I won't be too sad, as the saffers are as passionate about their game as we are, and care as little about what other people think about them as we do.

  • 188.
  • At 06:10 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andre wrote:

I am from South Africa and do not understand what all this fuss is about winning ugly. A win is a win. Who cares in 10 years time. The record books only proclaim who has won. Does any body care to remember how we won the WC in 1995. We played shutdown rugby and shut down Jonah Lomu. Joel Stransky kicked a drop goal in the 2nd period of extra time.

In 1999 in the Q/F Jannie De Beer blitzed England with 5 drop goals. The S/F Stephan Larkham took us out with a drop goal in extra time.

In our domestic Currie cup competition Naas Botha was hated by all opposition of the Blue Bulls. The reason his knack of kicking drop goals to win matches in the last minute. Johnny will have to kick a lot more drop goals to beat his record.

About Saturdays game we should get ahead early to force England to play our game. If we manage to do that we will win, a drop goal by JW won't matter then. If it is close at the end he will be a big factor. Our tighthead seems to be a problem. I don't know whether he will cope, the rest of the team is fine. In Jake White's own words the first guy you pick is the tighthead. The second guy you pick is the reserve tighthead.

On Saturday may the best team win. Please let it be us! Seven straight losses to England still hurts.

  • 189.
  • At 06:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • RedRose17 wrote:

Post 125 - Justin (AGAIN)

More drivel from someone who knows nothing about Rugby...England demolished by SA in 99???

The Saffers got nowhere near England's try line for about 75 mins of that game, and had Janni Dewhatshisname not been able to drop goal from 50 meters SA would have not even come close to winning.

International sport has got nothing to do with "deserve", its got to do with winning. If it was about deserve then frankly Fiji would have been in the Semi-Finals and the Kiwis would have won the whole thing.

As for catching France and Oz on bad days, what a joke. The Saffers haven't played a team ranked in the top 5 the whole tournament! (until now...)

Oh, and the expression is flock of seagulls or, perhaps you meant follow like Lemmings? Who knows(?), except that perhaps your ignorance on Rugby and the English language is worrying.

  • 190.
  • At 06:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • marcus wrote:

179. I completely agree!!

In what way have SA been playing expansive and beautiful rugby? Putting 5 passes in a row to Habana and letting him do his stuff is not expansive! Intercepts are about as scank a try as you can get!

Why does SA deserve to win? They've ghosted into the final with almost no challenge (England included). Fiji offered the greatest challenge and they tried playing expansively until Fiji came back and they sensibly said enough of that and 'ruined' a very exciting QF match with up the jumper england tactics and ended up with 17 pts.

I've watched the England match 4 times so far, we ran with the ball we used our backs to take the ball up, robinson made many breaks, tait, catt, hipkiss all ran with it making half breaks but France defended extremely well. I admit we're not throwing in double miss loops etc but that is because it's absolutely useless.

England have got every chance of winning this game and anyone predicting an easy game for the Bok's knows very little about rugby.

  • 191.
  • At 06:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • SpringboksAllTheWay wrote:

Alfie Noakes the 2nd (No. 135)

Maybe the reason for us not singing like all you poms do, is that you can look like a bit of a twat trying to start a song with only about a 1000 fellow fans there, you must also remember a few things, 1) we South Africans dont have the luxury of being able to travel to every sporting event our country plays in due to financial implications, not to mention that for us to enter France we would have to wait 6 to 10 weeks for a visa, and you would have to buy your plane ticket before applying. 2) Our country has 11 or 12 official languages just look at our national anthem which is made up of 3, now do you really expect all the whole 1000 fans there to know the same song in the same language, NO.

We are proud rugby supporters who scream for every inch gained by our team, unfortunately all those fans are stuck at home unable to attend the match, but are we quiet when singing our anthem (even if watching the game by yourself at home), or is there no atmosphere, or are we passionless, NO CHANCE MATE.

I would like you to attend the 2010 Football World Cup, where there is a good chance you would be sitting with very few English supporters and then see how vocal you are, especially when you have 1 of my fellow brothers sitting next to you with a vu-vu-zella drowing out your every word.

  • 192.
  • At 06:31 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • sy wrote:

i'm glad we're playing SA in the final...

Their team, coaches and fans have been gracious and good humoured and if they win then fair play to them.

They've been the stand out team so far this world cup, and if being world champions is about beating the best then England will be worthy if they win.

If England gain parity in the line out - one of the areas where they really struggled in the group game - then they have a chance...

  • 193.
  • At 06:48 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Jo - Bok Fan wrote:

To Alfie Noakes the 2nd (#135)

"The Bok fans are an embarrassment to the spirit of rugby... no singing, no atmosphere, no passion"

Really? Since I was not fortunate enough to be at the Semi, I really cannot comment on the Bok Fans lack of spirit, or passion. Perhaps they were tense, or maybe they were merely willing their team through to the final in nervous anticipation.

I will confidently say this however, the atmosphere down here in Johannesburg is electifying. We are wearing Green and Gold to offices and schools, waving South African flags from our homes and listening to lists of rugby anthems being played on various radio stations - this all in support of the Bokke. No lack of passion or atmosphere here Alfie.

May the Spirit of Rugby be shared with Rugby fans ALL over the world. Awesome RWC.

Proudly South African! Go Bokke!

P.S. English by birth ....

  • 194.
  • At 06:53 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • james wrote:

Blood, sweat, grumpiness, confidence, destiny and underdog power is all good, but the trouble is, England's kicking out of hand, (upon which the territory game must be based) has been really poor in general, and was shown up by the saffas last time.

Unless our TWO fly halves pull their finger out find a cannon to match percy (and dont aim it at Habana) we'll be in trouble whatever gameplan we play.

Defo the right time to get the dustsheet off Hipkiss though. He'll make an impact.

  • 195.
  • At 06:56 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Aphra wrote:

Evan: "Australia only lost because they missed 3 penalties and 2 drop goals, any of these would have finished them and they would have had no answer for it."

What a truly twattish observation. Maybe you'd gone out for another beer when England missed some of their kicks too? And if they hadn't.......


  • 196.
  • At 07:00 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

As a passionate England supporter, one thing should be emphasized, as it was by a Scot (wardy #12): the England team is the one to be cheered on for its extraordinary turnaround. England fans are rightly delighted but most of us have no cause for self-congratulation. The players have achieved what they did in the face of overwhelming criticism from media and fans alike – and that hostility has clearly been a spur to them and has helped (along with an excellent coach) to mold them as a team capable of playing far beyond what they ever looked capable of achieving on paper. But it's they who got to the final, pulling us with them.

Secondly, it's silly to blow England’s trumpet at the expense of SA. Instead of all the excuses about why we lost 36-0, we should acknowledge that they have shown they are the far better side in the recent meetings of the two teams. And for all the talk of our scrum, how many of us have been looking at the Boks’ superb lineout? If we can't win own ball there, we’ll be in real trouble.

The question that remains is whether the sheer bloody-mindedness of the English pack (helped on both by the earlier hostility of media and fans and by the present massive support) will be enough to swing the day. It just might but only if SA doesn't play to its own strengths.

P.S. Thanks to Corne van Vuuren #113 for his excellent analysis of both teams' strengths and weaknesses.

  • 197.
  • At 07:15 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • B wrote:

Interesting comments all round:

Common sense dictates that SA will win on saturday and furthermore, they have the guts to do it. France (or rather Bernard Laporte) didn't and they lost a game they should have won. There's nothing special about the way England are playing and they'll be the first to admit that they will give everything they have to keep the game within 3 points with less than 10 minutes to go. This is where Johnny steps up and applies the coup de grace. If SA are brave enough then they will press and pull away BUT there is an air of inevitability about the way England have progressed so I really wouldn't like to predict what will happen except that it'll be worth watching.

  • 198.
  • At 07:20 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Theo S wrote:

Amazing amount of comments on this blog post. I'm a South African expat, and I really hope the Springboks win. They certainly have a good chance, but at the moment I would say it's around 50/50, i.e. it could easiyl go either way.

Pro SA:
The coach, Jake White is really, really good. That alone must be a breath of fresh air to the SA team, who have had a succession of morons ever since 1995.

From the coach down, all of the SA players have been saying how wary they are of England, and I agree 100%, England is not going into this final the underdogs. They beat Australia and France. They are the favourites, I think.

This SA team is possibly the most disciplined and focused team they have ever had. It is also one of the most talented teams they've ever had.

This SA team hasn't crack under strain, yet.

Two names: Montgomery and Habana, but I think they would play well even if those two weren't there.

Contra SA:
They haven't been really tested yet in the RWC. England has played France and Australia.

Pro UK:
That English resilience. It is nothing short of amazing how the English team fight on no matter how much they're down or how bad the odds are.

Johnny Wilkinson. He is not only a genuinely nice guy, excellent kicker and tough all round player, he also seems to have a magical influence on the English team. Without him, England play like Tonga, with him, they play like world champions.

Contra UK:
The team weakens noticeably when Wilkinson is not around.

The English media. Apart from this article, a lot of the English media is acting as if the cup has already been won, which is dangerous.

Similarly, some English players have started doing the same thing.

I have no prediction on how the game will turn out, but I say:

  • 199.
  • At 07:42 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • William Scrivens wrote:

A South African claiming the English are arrogant ?! LOL. Try reading what your centre said in the build up to the Fiji game.

  • 200.
  • At 07:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robinson wrote:

Great post Theo, but I have just one problem with it. The "english media", if you ignore the red-tops, which are always OTT, are all both trumpeting how amazing it is for England to even be there but at the same time are also suggesting SA are going to win. I don't see anything wrong with this analysis.

Like I say, ignore the gutter press and some of the blogs. Serious journalists and knowledgable rugby fans think beating the odds 3 times in a row will be a bit too much for our lads.

  • 201.
  • At 07:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Larry Lesard wrote:

Alphie Noakes - you're a true pillock.
Stop slagging off other people's supporters and focus your energy on positive support for your own team.
Every country will have a few supporters to embarrass the true fans, but the vast majority will be spirited and sportsmanlike. Lets focus on the positives.
An amazing WC!

  • 202.
  • At 08:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hopwood wrote:

England have done exceptionally well to make the final, however their heroics of the last two games will no doubt have taken its toll on them physically. South Africa have had a much easier run to the final and have been saving their biggest performance for the final. It will be a close final, as all finals are but South Africa should have the class to go all the way and win it. Optimistic South African.

  • 203.
  • At 08:14 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • dn wrote:

Just to comment on one point from nickc (no 47). You say that SA nearly lost to Tonga but thanks to a bounce in the wrong direction we got away with it. How about England's first try on Saturday if that had bounced the other way it wouldn't have been and possibly not even be having this conversation.

Looking forward to a good game on Saturday!!

  • 204.
  • At 08:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • MonkeyCat wrote:

Post 29.

Good point, but England are only rated 7th in the world at present!!

  • 205.
  • At 08:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

Reading through these comments the thing that stands out is the new maturity exhibited by South Africans. The old arrogance, unsupported by their performance, seems to be gone. As someone else wrote, they only speak good of other teams and their reputation for sloppy agression probably stems from a previous era: they still get a bad rap for it, however, which could count agains them. They are saying, and thinking, that England will be tough, which it will. However, I think that, for the first time, that we have a professional SA team that actually brings out the individual talents of the players - as we have seen in their clinical performances on the field.

It can always come unstuck, but SA should win because:

1. Habana's speed opens up a lot of options for a SA attack that can be blunted by a flat defense even when he has not got the ball. If England defend too flat, James will find the flyer - he chased down a lot of kicks in the Super 14 to sscore.

2. SA has at least five long distance kickers (ever seen a Habana rocket?) and a line out to dominate. Surely, this will over-ride the JW + pack combination of the English?

3. SA's 'lucky' scores seem awfully consistent; they have specialised in interceptions and turnovers for at least two years now. Maybe they've decided that (Australia apart) its really difficult to score from set pieces, and have changed their tactics to accept this.

4. Despite his highlights, Montgomery is at last a solid (even inspiring) fullback - he's lost a yard or too, but at least now he arrives in the right place quite often. Thank God be played a season or too in Wales to learn how to play again!

5. John Smit, Fourie du Preez, Victor Matfield, and even Schalk

6. SA's initial goal was to destroy England, and I think they trained for this for months. It worked the first time.

But isn't the nervousness over the game delightful!! Whoever wins, this WC has been a great improvement on the last. Great to see the Argies do so well, and just a pity (and a blessing) to see so little of the All Blacks. My one regret in this WC - SA vs NZ.

  • 206.
  • At 08:23 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dougie wrote:

England are not that good they beat an average Aussie team without Stephen Larkham and a French team who gave away a stupid try in the first minute and who were struggling even though they beat New Zealand who if you use the right tactics are beatable.From the start I said South Africa and as I am Scottish with South African Blood I say mon the Boks

  • 207.
  • At 08:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

My heart say England by less than a score, my head says South Africa.

England's only really potent attacks in the 3 matches against World Top 5 opposition have been begun by Jason Robinson in space. The South Africans will be bound to try and smother him if at all possible. Even if that does allow opportunities for Tait / Sackey / Hipkiss, I am not sure that they have the speed and composure to outsprint Montgomery / Habana / Pietersen. (I hope of course that they do)

Montgomery's kicking (as opposed to JW)is still to be tested under pressure, but I would not bet against him if Alain Rolland judges England to be misbehaving in the scrum in their own half, and they have been known to do that.

Mark Regan's throwing did not appear to be backed up with alot of self confidence on Saturday (despite the ITV Sports statistics saying he did not lose a line out??). Smit however has found his jumpers easily on almost every occasion, and I believe that Botha and Matfield are more than capable of starting English-style rolling mauls to set the platform for the backs to threaten.

Steyn, although he made mistakes on Saturday, seemed to break the gain line much more regularly than England's centres.

Man for man, in the matches I have watched, though admittedly against different opposition, South Africa just look better and quicker.

I really hope I am wrong and will be screaming like a Banshee on Saturday for England to roll them over, but I think South Africa will shade it

  • 208.
  • At 08:46 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bart wrote:

Intresting blog sofar. As a neutral the only thing I can say is that - as you all may have noticed - this is the RWC final and in that final the ongoing laws of which team is the best in world rugby won't count anymore. That is why England won both the quarter and semi final and SA struggled in some parts of their matches.
It will be a tense and interesting match to watch for every rugby loving spectator. England will play its favourite role of being the underdog but will be very eager to set certain things straight and SA want to teach England a lesson which will result in giving away to much penalties. And we all know what will happen then.

  • 209.
  • At 08:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

As a kiwi, with an English mother and a British passport, I have decided to support the Boks. It is a hard decision, Last WC i didn't go for anyone in the final, it was too difficult to decide who i disliked least! Firstly I cannot back England because they are so boring, and id hate for them to win and have every other team start to emulate their play. Secondly, i still don't believe they deserve to be the World champs, since the last world cup they have hardly pushed the ABs, or many other teams for that matters, whilst the Boks have been able to beat the ABs, albeit on their own turf. Every game is another game, we were unlucky to loss, and England have been lucky to win. I must credit their fighting spirit, but they are not World Champion material, the Boks are.

For some reason all my friends are Safas or Poms, so I going to hear about it anyway, I'd prefer to hear it from someone new! Four years of my uncles "we're the world chumpions" after every All Black victory was enough!

  • 210.
  • At 08:47 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Aphra wrote:

Post 204: "Good point, but England are only rated 7th in the world at present!!"

I guess they're the appropriate authority!

As of 15/10......

1 - New Zealand
2 - South Africa
3 - England
4 - France
5 - Australia
6 - Argentina

  • 211.
  • At 09:07 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hein wrote:

The past is history. In a sport like rugby it is very hard to predict a winner in a tight final like the RWC. The day will dictate in terms of:

a) Referee
b) The will to win
c) Structure to be in place
d) Over-confidence
e) The ability to capitalise on your opponents mistake.
f) Strategic & accurate kicking
g) Captaincy
h) Focus

The Boks look extremely focussed and will be a force to reckon with. The English have made an amazing comeback which will pump the adrenaline and will keep them in the game. It will be close. Of the two the Boks get my vote with a slight margin, but anything can happen.

All the best to both teams and may the fans be spoiled with a great encounter!!!

  • 212.
  • At 09:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Peet wrote:

i agree with a lot said on this but i also disagree with a lot.

as an englishman i dearly would love a win for us as they deserve it havign been writen off since the 36-0 drubbing by everyone including myself - like many for me anything beyond the knockout stages was a bonus.

i think SA are an amazing team and were my pre tournament faves (i have never fallen for the allblack hype). they play a similar style (comparitively) to england, being very strong in the forwards, but i feel have a superior back line in almost every position.

i dont know what will happen in the final - if i did id be very rich. nobody does.

on the whole i feel the english supporters have been very modest in all manners. we acknowledge SA as the better team, but are hardly as arrogant as some SH, other and even english posters when airing our opinions. i find it quite bizarre.

equally bizarre is this concept of "dull rugby" being played by england, and it being "good for the game" if we dont win. what claptrap.

i am not even pretending to be the most ardent rugby fan on the planet, or even know everyhting but i have a decent enough grasp to appreciate englands utter dominance in the forward areas in both of their last 2 games. it has been extremely entertaining watching them grind out a victory in such a manner. its not a boring style - its the inevitable result when two evenly matched teams with strong defences play. admitedly the english backline is not as expansive as SA or other SH teams, i wish it were, but why should we start chucking the ball around in a poor attempt at apeing them, instead of doing what we are doing bloody well and winning the forward battle (and defending wholeheartedly, note wilko's tackle on pelous, a man far bigger and sttronger) just to please people who would be more happy watching 7s or league? i think forward play is what makes union.

a final note on wilko. credit to his profesionalism - a testament to sport itself. that aside he has been out of sorrts all world cup (regarding his kicking particulalry) so for people to claim he is a one man team is insulting to the rest of the team, particularly gommarsal, robbo but above all the forwards. had wilko been kicking at the same level as percy or hernandez et al. have been then we would have put many more points past teams.

good luck to both teams - what a world cup!

  • 213.
  • At 09:30 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • simon wrote:

These WC games have epitomised the nature of 'sport'. E vs Oz no idea of the winner with 5 to go, and the same vs SA, how exiting, more on sat!how good is Rugby union for entertainment even if it is ugly!

  • 214.
  • At 10:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Timgo wrote:

Fantastic blog guys! Some gracious and insightful comments by Saffers and Whites.
What we can agree on is what a fabulously exciting RWC its been so far and what a contest is in prospect for the final. Hope both teams play to their full potential and deliver another magnificent spectacle. GO ENGLAND GO

  • 215.
  • At 10:21 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Timo wrote:

Can I just say, why is Habana getting all the press for being as fast as a cheetah when he was skinned on the wing by that American who ran away from him. Now that was quick!

  • 216.
  • At 10:28 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • BokFan wrote:

I have to say that that I am really nervous for the Springboks on Saturday.

Yes they have not lost one game so far, but some of those games were scrappy and unorganized.

Also, against a strong front row like England they will have their work cut out for them.

Again, I do think that England plays the better pressure game, both absorbing and applying pressure.

The Boks thrives on open Rugby and England is not going to let that happen again.

As mentioned before, if it is a tight game, England would be have the advantage.

I do hope I see the game I have been hoping the Springboks would play on Saturday, tight dicipline and ball control.

Go Bokke!!!!!, good luck England

  • 217.
  • At 10:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

This is not just a battle between England and South Africa but the Northern and Southern hemispheres! If the French had beaten England, I would have been willing them on, the same as I want Man Utd to win in Europe.

Momentum is a big factor in sport and you can be the greatest expert in the world but you can't legislate for it.

  • 218.
  • At 10:34 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • FRENCH BOB wrote:

re DEREK fALLON on "setting the game back tewnty years". Sometimes I wish the game was the same now as it was back then. For a srat there would be proper lineouts and not the clumsy arial ballets we see nowadays; TV coverage would have to rely on fewer cameras thereby limiting the number of decisions that the director has to make and ensuring that the viewer enjoys more continuity and could actually appreciate what's happening on the field; I wouldn't have to hang my head in embarrassment at the appalling shirts that England are called upon to wear by their sponsors; I daresay I wouldn't be exposed to so many people who clearly have no real appreciation for the finer points of the game and whose naive and simplistic views may well drag rugby down the same blind alley as cricket's one day borefest. Rugby is a game of strategy not the X Factor for goodness sake. All I'm hoping for on saturday is that the ref has a good game, the rest is history.

  • 219.
  • At 11:12 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • numbnuts wrote:

England half-backs for saturday's game are different. Gomarsall needs to play a blinder and put Du Preez under some real pressure and Wilko needs to really be on his game. England, based on the last couple of games, should be more effective up front then the SA front row and then the back-row needs to neutralise SA turnover ball. Finally Robinson needs to have his best game of the tournament and score a couple of tries. Problem with the Boks for England is that they are good at scoring points quickly, so England need to put them on the defensive..The game probably won't be as tight (either way) as England's last two. England need to get early points and put the Boks under pressure..are SA as good defensively as France?

  • 220.
  • At 11:54 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Theo S wrote:

I would just like to add that any predictions are just that: an unlucky or lucky ball for either side in the last minutes seals the game. It is very true that it doesn't matter if you win by one point, you've still won!

  • 221.
  • At 12:51 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I think defence often gets overlooked, jonny is a great defensive fly half. France and Aus had try scoring opportunities but our defence stood up. England have a better chance in a pressure game than SA, dont let SA get into their game.

  • 222.
  • At 02:18 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • JD wrote:

The comment by John Grint that Springboks can not be given true champion status if they win is absolute bull. If you were actually watching all the games, who would you rather play in the semis, Arg or France? Arg were the second best team after SA in this cup. England beat Aus coz Aus don't have forwards. Then they beat France as France was spent from the AB game and no one in the French team can land a drop goal.

SA have both forward power and sweet kickers of the ball plus they are all extremely fit. So SA has all of England's streangh covered.

England on the other hand can not match SA's brilliance at the breakdown or outside wide. And this is where SA will win the game.

John Grint, if you really want to give a team champion status, it will be the team that has no weaknesses, have not looked in trouble when under pressure, have preformed consistently and wow the audiences with their skills. Honestly can you put England anywhere near that? I’m sure you can as you are still in dream land and will wake up to reality after 60 mins of the final as it will be then the game will be over as a contest.

  • 223.
  • At 04:00 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Yusef wrote:

The fact is Jonnie is England's tram card, without him England is NOTHING!

SA is made up of all rounders but must beware of the England forwards as they can drive the game to important positions for Jonnie's final nail in the coffin.

Beware SA, the English forwards..GO SA GO..!

  • 224.
  • At 06:15 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • NZ tiki wrote:

Here we have a great battle of North against the South! While the English rose has bloomed over the past week or two, like everything that ages they will now wilt and the petals will fall off -Go the Boks the south is right behind you!!!!!!!

  • 225.
  • At 06:25 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

Amen - JD

  • 226.
  • At 07:52 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Fabio wrote:

The one thing this competition tells you is that logic goes out of the window when the pressure is on. England have already played 4 finals in this competition since losing to the Boks. Each game was a 'must win' and they found a way of winning again. This is the best winning run they've had since 2003.
The final is up for grabs! can't wait.

  • 227.
  • At 08:10 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Leon Jordaan wrote:

Tongue in cheek

Schalk Burger is so tough that:
When he does pushups he does`nt lift himself, he`s pushing the earth down.

When he goes swimming, he does`nt get wet, the water gets Schalk Burgered.

He counted to infinity: Twice

He invented every colour, except pink, Percy did that.

His hand is the only hand that can beat a royal flush

He gave Mona Lisa that smile.

He gave the Hulk permission to be green.

He can slam a revolving door.

He urinates his name in concrete.

His calender goes straight from March 31 to April 2, no one fools him.

His tears cure cancer, too bad he`s never cried., ever.

Superman owns a pair of Schalk Burger pyjamas.

He sleeps with a nightlight, not because he`s afraid of the dark, the dark is afraid of him.

Once a Cobra bit him. After 5 days of excrutiating pain the Cobra died.

When he exercises the gym equipment gets stronger.

The only time he was wrong, was when he thought he made a mistake.

He does not get tackled, he waits for his support.

Schalk Burger tought Cuck Norris his moves.

Schalk Birger can kill two stones with one bird.

Up the Boks!

  • 228.
  • At 08:17 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Tommo07 wrote:

North vs South, SA will do it to prove the flair of the south is a brand worth playing! Hats off to England for the come back, but now its time to show what the Boks have been building for four years; rugby played with such energy and ferocity that it will blow England out of the game eventually. The Poms defence will hold strong for a while, being one of the best, but not long enough for the banks to burst and the SH skills to be unleashed. Bokke!

  • 229.
  • At 08:35 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • past it fullback wrote:

Well said Gipie (post 26). As for all the rubbish being written here, if we were all such experts we would be in the SA or English squads as either players or coaches. The world cup final will hinge on a few moments for both teams. One tackle, one line break or one missed tackle. England would have lost to the French if Worsley had not made that tap tackle. One interception by Habana could win the game. The margins for error will be zero and the side with the better mental preparation will win. Good luck to the Boks, who thoroughly deserve to be in the final and the best of luck to our English boys, who are no less deserving, regardless of some of the comments emanating from the SH. You do not get to a world cup final by luck or accident!

  • 230.
  • At 08:49 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Robinson wrote:

The trouble with comparing games and picking a winner based on those is that England have turned form on its head during these last few weeks. Even so I'd still put the Bokke at 6-4, because I can't see a weakness there that England can take advantage of. If Johnny's boot was kicking a better average (like he used to) I'd say it was 50-50 but PM has a much better average for this tournament.

It's a shame but I can't see anything other than an SA win. When you think about how awful SA were just a few years ago as a developing team, you can't say they wouldn't deserve it.

  • 231.
  • At 09:23 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • alex Hunter wrote:

I am English and found the game against Australia very exciting and entertaining. The one against France less so just because it followe dthe Aus game. Beating Aus. is so sweet as they are such self-publicists and bad losers(and they have a few reasonably players, too) but where is their team now? They are nor qualified to comment on England in this situation as they are too partial. I don't read what the Southern Hemisphere say about our game. It's predictable, bad mannered and irrelevant. England started the tournament needing some practice games for some returning players (front row particularly). England have now warmed up, have a game plan and a set of fit and motivated players. They have had harder games than SA and have dealt with pressure. They have made very few mistakes, played to their strenghs and never given up. Please, will someone give the man who said England are in the final by pure luck a brain scan. SA will turn a little bit naughty when they come under pressure (leopards etc) and I hope the ref will deal with that accordingly. Providing the referee is consistent and fair, England continue to make as few mistakes as they have to date (that will depend partially on the amount of pressure SA can bring to bear), they don't lose anymore key men to injury early in the game, they marshall their defence as well as they have so far then they will win by less than 10 points. Quite a few "if"s but I don't apologise for that. Brian Ashton is a real hero in returning to Englands strengths and forming a coherant team and plan in so short a time, almost miraculous. He is to be thanked and lauded whatever the result on Sunday. He has allowed the England team to play to their potential. See you in Tom and Gerry's, Kathmandu on Sunday night. England will win. We love you, you big ugly b*st*rds.

  • 232.
  • At 09:25 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • mkh wrote:

Liquiduze or Liquidate you arrests?

some people have left comments saying that england are dull and boring and play with no real flair. maybe we havnt scored many tries but neverless were in the final so all the people who say we don't deserve
if we can beat world class teams then surley we desrve a place in the final


  • 234.
  • At 09:38 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Well, well well, who would have thought it. I remember after hearing the result of the USA game thinking that we havnt got a chance, but my has it changed. We need to win this final, purely due to the fact that i cant take another ribbing from my S. African girlfriend if we lose! Please England, for the sake of my relationship! On a serious note, we have shown what we can do when under heaps of pressure, the two last games in the group stages were knockout matches and every game after that has been a World Cup Final in its own right. I didnt think we would beat Aus or the French, but i genuinely believe we can beat SA. We wont make silly mistakes like Argentina, which ultimately cost them the match; i thought they were the better team in the first half. We need to close down Habana and stop him using his speed. Each try will cost us 7 points as Montgomery is unlikely to miss the conversion. I dont know about before, in regards to the quarters and semis, but im sure the whole of england is behind you in the final. Come on boys YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  • 235.
  • At 10:39 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Come on England, you can do it, were all behind you!

  • 236.
  • At 10:49 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

i would give the team champion status to whoever lifts that little cup

as for england being nothing without JW, we arent nothing, we're certainly not as good but it is not his kicking that influences a game

when you look at that england team sheet, you are definitely more worried when you see JW, so your game plan adapts to play him out the game....the reason this leads to problems is because when you have dangerous players outside him that can do damage....if 2/3 defenders are focused on JW, it leaves space out wide, and if the right decisions made (ala france in the 6 nations, or scotland, i cnt remember now) it results in a try

It is like the english could get so caught up trying not to let the ball get to habana...we could miss the fact that steyn, or monetgomery or someone else just carves our defence open

oh btw i loved those shalck burger quips, made me giggle

as for SA having no weaknessess...i wouldnt say that...they do however have a lot less than france and aus did...making for a very exciting game, but dnt be surprised by an england victory...its what i'm hoping for anyways :)

  • 237.
  • At 10:55 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Trevor wrote:

South Africa deserve to win and they're gonna win!!

Go bokke!!!

  • 238.
  • At 11:04 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • SPOOKY wrote:

england has a fantastic defense . It only allowed 36 points against SA . Also Sackey should dominate Habana because he is definetly superior . Habana has only scored 8 tries in this tournament . Wilko will make a huge difference to the English side . One only has to look at the effect he had when playing in the series against SA this year . the scores were really tight . He was unlucky not to have slotted a few more drop goals . I personally cant see SA winning the final with all the odds stacked against them .

  • 239.
  • At 11:10 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Albert Gitonga wrote:

SA will win and they do not have to rely on England to make the kind of mistakes Argentina made.
SA are far superior and the one eyed view that some people have, that England will overcome like they did the Aussies and the French is just ridiculous. This is the RWC people and nobody will play below par this day, problem is England have one threat JW while SA have threats all over the park.
Still England supporters don't give up on your team, that is what makes sports exciting.

  • 240.
  • At 11:28 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Bobby Solid wrote:

Saffas score breakaway tries generally, usually because they are always offside

Front row lifts under pressure - see Argie game

England to win. Starve Habana of the ball, beat them up up front, easy doors

  • 241.
  • At 11:35 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • pod wrote:

once the game is all over, everyone forgets anyway.

....wait, hang forgets.



  • 242.
  • At 11:47 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Look, if Eng beat Oz/France and then SA on consecutive weekends, you'd have to say they deserve the WC. On the other hand if SA knock off the same England team twice in the tournament you'd have to say likewise. So I'm looking forward to a cracker. I'm just worried that England will score more than zero this time ;-)

Scot/Saffa so really not relishing the outside prospect of an Engurlaaand win

  • 243.
  • At 12:56 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Habana is lightning quick but he was SKINNED and left for dead by that the American winger when the yanks scored one of the tries of the tournament......BBC and ITV news please note!!!!!!!

As usual with the news nowadays wh let the truth interfere with a good news story?

  • 244.
  • At 01:00 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Duke wrote:

I can understand the English supporters trying to find reasons to be optomistic about their teams chances in the final but come on, be realistic.
Just because it is a final doesn't mean each team has a 50/50 chance of winning.
The better team has a better chance of course.
When we won in '95 we knew we had a slim chance. (not 50/50)
That made the victory the more sweeter.
S.A. will thrash the English by at least 20 points.

  • 245.
  • At 01:38 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Habana is lightning quick but he was SKINNED and left for dead by that the American winger when the yanks scored one of the tries of the tournament......BBC and ITV news please note!!!!!!!

As usual with the news nowadays wh let the truth interfere with a good news story?

  • 246.
  • At 01:52 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • ali wrote:

Of course its 50/50 duke....we both start at 0-0 and with 15 men :)

  • 247.
  • At 02:03 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • ali wrote:

Of course its 50/50 duke....we both start at 0-0 and with 15 men :)

  • 248.
  • At 02:22 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • babbo_umbro wrote:

"If you made up a composite side from the two teams, the Springbok representation might be only marginally higher than England’s, if you picked a world XV from this tournament, South Africa would have an overwhelming majority."

Absolute drivel - if the first half of this comment is correct - and it probably is - how on earth can the second half stand up?

  • 249.
  • At 03:12 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • CBmajor wrote:

These accusations of a 'one-man-tean' are so pointless... Jonny Wilkinson IS English. We therefore have the right to use him and his skills to whatever extent we want.

Jonny is, however, by no means a one man team. What he is is a hugely important part of one of the best 'teams' in the Tournament. The English teams spirit thus far has epitomised everything that 'team' is about. We by no means have the best players or the best skills, but as we have proved, that is not always what is important.

England have got themselves into the position of being one of the only 2 teams with a chance of winning this World cup. Should they go on to beat the South Africans, they will be the most desrving of winners... in just the same way Should SA beat us, they will thoroughly deserve the world champions' tag. Ultimately, it is only the team that wins the Tournament that has done enough to carry the title away with them. The others have shown that they don't quite have what it takes...

  • 250.
  • At 03:22 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • CBmajor wrote:

These accusations of a 'one-man-tean' are so pointless... Jonny Wilkinson IS English. We therefore have the right to use him and his skills to whatever extent we want.

Jonny is, however, by no means a one man team. What he is is a hugely important part of one of the best 'teams' in the Tournament. The English teams spirit thus far has epitomised everything that 'team' is about. We by no means have the best players or the best skills, but as we have proved, that is not always what is important.

England have got themselves into the position of being one of the only 2 teams with a chance of winning this World cup. Should they go on to beat the South Africans, they will be the most desrving of winners... in just the same way Should SA beat us, they will thoroughly deserve the world champions' tag. Ultimately, it is only the team that wins the Tournament that has done enough to carry the title away with them. The others have shown that they don't quite have what it takes...

  • 251.
  • At 03:23 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Mvuselelo wrote:

In 1995 South Africa won and were WC and African's Cup of Nation was in South Africa in 1997. This time 2007 South Africa will be WC and Soccer World Cup is coming to South Africa 2010. See, the repeat. It is about fate. Some results need to be accepted and just enjoy the game.

  • 252.
  • At 03:45 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Alesha wrote:

ENGLAND.... Lets face it,were brickin it! The South African players are well hard and we are scared of em!! Hence the 36-0 result!!
As much as i am willing them to win, lets not delude ourselves!
Ah well,on the plus side,us english dont need an excuse for a booze sesh,and win or lose, we will be doing just that!! ENJOY !!

  • 253.
  • At 03:51 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Alesha wrote:

ENGLAND.... Lets face it,were brickin it! The South African players are well hard and we are scared of em!! Hence the 36-0 result!!
As much as i am willing them to win, lets not delude ourselves!
Ah well,on the plus side,us english dont need an excuse for a booze sesh,and win or lose, we will be doing just that!! ENJOY !!

  • 254.
  • At 03:59 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • anonymous wrote:

Ye Gods! If you were to read to some of these posts and took them as gospel then you would wonder why England are even bothering to turn up!

What a lot of people are forgetting is that both teams will be competing in a world cup final. What has happened in the past, including pool stages, count for hardly anything.

Cast your mind back to that gloryous november night 4 years ago. England were staggering favorites to win that game but were taken to the wire by a well organised Australian side. Indeed, in 1995, the mighty New Zeland were beaten by massive underdogs SA.

I don't know about you, the person reading this, but I am not going to Give up on England until the Final whistle blows. South Africa are favorites, but so were Austrailia and France ( if you remember, France thrashed us only two weeks before SA did. We still beat them).

All these predictions of a large winning margins are forgetting the fact the England have only conceded 1 try in the last two games. That is an impressive record against two teams with very celebrated attack, France and Australia.

England do have form going into this game. We have beaten two of the favorites in France and Australia. We were written off against them as well.

I don't care if we win ugly. As long as we have more point than the other team at the end, that is all that matters.

To all SA fans I would say that I do not expect England to win and you are very much favorites, but fate has a funny way of bringing past comment back to haunt you. And critism can fire a man up twice as much as praise can.

And no, I am not being arrogant. Here is to a great final, whoever the winner may be.


  • 255.
  • At 04:41 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

You Pom part time rugby fans, you only get behind your team when they are winning and then slag them off when they lose, most don't even follow rugby !!

Stop the and enjoy the game of rugby.

Every team plays as close to the off-side rule as possible and if they get away with it good luck to them. SA and England are as bad as one another.

Winning by scoring break away tries again is due to pressure on the opposition and space awareness. England would do the same if they could. They have not do so this tournament, so what does that say, they are missing something in their game, they going to stop scoring because they off-side .......... come on Bobby solid, you solid rugby awareness is letting you down, stick to foosball :)

  • 256.
  • At 04:55 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

You Pom part time rugby fans, you only get behind your team when they are winning and then slag them off when they lose, most don't even follow rugby !!

Stop the and enjoy the game of rugby.

Every team plays as close to the off-side rule as possible and if they get away with it good luck to them. SA and England are as bad as one another.

Winning by scoring break away tries again is due to pressure on the opposition and space awareness. England would do the same if they could. They have not do so this tournament, so what does that say, they are missing something in their game, they going to stop scoring because they off-side .......... come on Bobby solid, you solid rugby awareness is letting you down, stick to foosball :)

  • 257.
  • At 05:36 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

SA have a certain Aussy coach who has taught them well how to score on turn over ball; especially out wide. In this RWC they have scored well from turnovers, interceptions, and just plain mistakes. On the other hand England's defense is one of the best in the game......but maybe NOT against turnovers so far in the RWC. Can England learn and turn on their defensive strength quickly enough after turnovers? Who knows ...that's what makes it a must watch match.

Defense wins games...but England need to quickly learn a whole new brand of defense against the dark arts of counter punching.

  • 258.
  • At 05:40 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

SA have a certain Aussy coach who has taught them well how to score on turn over ball; especially out wide. In this RWC they have scored well from turnovers, interceptions, and just plain mistakes. On the other hand England's defense is one of the best in the game......but maybe NOT against turnovers so far in the RWC. Can England learn and turn on their defensive strength quickly enough after turnovers? Who knows ...that's what makes it a must watch match.

Defense wins games...but England need to quickly learn a whole new brand of defense against the dark arts of counter punching.

  • 259.
  • At 05:52 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Billy wrote:

I know I wont be watching it.

  • 260.
  • At 06:20 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • ian macko wrote:

To win a Rugby match you have to play Rugby not a game of Goal-Kicking which is what England are all about.Firstly Wilkinson has learn how to create tries after all he is supposed to be a play-maker,not just a kicker.SA are stronger because they can play a bit of running rugby so they should hammer England.Statistics in a game of RU that came up in the SA and Argentina game that produced only 94 tackles after 72 minutes between 34 players averaging 2 tackles per man.Then the RU have the cheek to name the game Rugby.More like the World Goal-Kicking Cup in my eyes.

  • 261.
  • At 09:53 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

South Africa to win by 50 points, Remember we played you with our B team in the second half of the 36 - 0 drubbing

  • 262.
  • At 11:59 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Dan 'Roykop' H. wrote:

Fresh comments Leon (no. 227), I see you sir and raise you one.

Lewis Moody is so insane that:

When he does push ups, they're c*ck push ups - no hands.

When he goes swimming he gets wet, but then he dries himself with a badger (an angry one).

He counted to ten once - because he can.

His favourite colour is red, the colour of the claret streaming from his face after yet another insane charge down.

He uses his hand to flush......away a floater.

Mona Lisa gave herself that smile, you cant see what she's sitting on.

Who gave permission for the Hulk film to be made - it's sh*t.

He can't slam doors in his house, they're all the futuristic sliding type - like in Star Trek.

He can excrete in the shape of his initials, not in concrete mind - in poo.

His calendar goes straight to December 25th - cause if he's been a good boy, that's when Santa will have visited.

His tears are short and forceful, coming only from his 'downstairs' eye.

Batman has a Lewis Moody thong.

He sleeps with a torch - to make scary faces with when holding it under his face.

A Black Mamba once bit him, he killed it till it was dead, sucked out the venom, then used it's carcass as a tourniquet.

When he exercises in the gym he does it by unracking, pressing and reracking 120 kilos of raw iron, with text book form.

He was wrong once, but he admitted his mistake, apologised and moved on.

If he does get tackled he laughs, and pity's the tackler - for revenge will be sweet.

Lewis Moody taught Chuck Norris how to grow his magical beard, now it's not just his crazy karate moves he uses to amaze the ladies.

Lewis Moody once escaped from between and rock and a hard place - he'd been stuck.

Good luck Schalk and Lewis, may the best mentalist win.

  • 263.
  • At 02:09 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Adam @Soupiel' Hodgson wrote:

To all those predicting a cricket score from RSA, you are naive in the extreme. It will clearly be a close match with forward play dominating the game. Why is there all this criticism of this from so many? Loose forwards are clearly the most admired players on the pitch from those who know the game e.g Lewis Moody, Shalk Burger, Richie McCaw. Remember Neil Back? PURE CLASS.

As regards kicking being our only way of scoring, England fans would clearly love backs in the mould of New Zealands but until they come along they should play to their strengths. Also don't forget Robbo is still around for 1 game more!

To Dan H 262 your monologue was hilarious, as hilarious as your ginger p*bes!

  • 264.
  • At 02:26 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Jen wrote:

Win or Lose, England have done well................

Its not over, till its over!!!

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites