Mark Orlovac

England locks ready for battle (61)

Paris – It has been quite a strange experience being around the England camp over the last couple of weeks.

You would have thought that as the World Cup has progressed through the knock-out rounds, the tension would have increased. Now they could just be good actors, but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

England, written off and dismissed, are on the verge of becoming the first side to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy but are not feeling the weight of expectation that maybe New Zealand and France did.

And so it was on Tuesday as England’s second-row pairing Ben Kay and Simon Shaw greeted the press at a crammed news conference at the squad’s Parisian base.

Kay's admission that "a lot of guys have been surprised" with the team's progress in France probably gives some hint as to why the side are so serene.

Compare that with the "sense of relief" that he says the players felt in 2003 when England won the World Cup after going into the event as favourites, and you can see why the pressure is not so great this time. They have nothing to lose.

"We came into this tournament with everybody telling us we had absolutely no hope right up to the last couple of weeks," he added. "If we were to win it, it would be a phenomenal achievement.

"I honestly believe if we win, it will mean more to me than last time around because of the trough we have been through since winning that World Cup."

Kay and Shaw did not seem too flustered as they discussed the prospect of coming up against one of the crack line-out units in the world game – South Africa’s Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

Simon Shaw and Ben Kay

And after forming a pretty effective partnership in France, why should they be?

Kay, who has played every minute of every game so far this tournament, admitted that the line-out would be “an area we will be working very hard on this week” but the England pair will feel confident that they have enough to take on South Africa this weekend.

In the games against Australia and France, England lost only two of their line-outs, and if you forge that with a dominant scrum, you can see why they have had such a solid platform on which to build.

Kay modestly said the line-out had been "adequate" this tournament, saying: "On occasions we have driven pretty well and against France and Australia we have shown that we can stop teams driving against us pretty effectively.

“But the South Africans are a different kettle of fish. That’s an area they look to dominate matches in and obviously we will have to step it up and compete a bit harder in the air than we did against France."

For Shaw, Saturday’s final will mark the high point of a long international journey.

The 34-year-old Wasps lock has only claimed 42 caps since making his England debut in 1996 and has missed out on three World Cups.

Injury forced him out of consideration for the 1995 tournament while he failed to make the squad in 1999. In 2003 he was omitted again only to go out as 31st man after an injury to Danny Grewcock.

He did not make it out onto the pitch however and for that reason he says his MBE and World Cup winner's medal are "stashed away somewhere".

And he is delighted that he is preparing for a final after having contributed far more to the campaign this time.

"It’s a dream to be involved in this World Cup final," he said. "A few months ago I didn’t really believe that I would get here let alone play in a final.

"I’m here on the biggest stage that the game can offer so I’m pretty happy. There has been 12 years of hard work to get here so it will mean a huge amount."

Shaw was keen to shrug off any comparisons with England’s World Cup winning skipper Martin Johnson but Kay, who played with Johnson at Leicester, gave his own insight as to how the two players compare.

"Shawsy’s a bit less boring!" he said. "They are pretty similar in the physicality they bring to the game. If Johnno had not been there then Shawsy would have had a huge number of caps by now.

"When Leicester play Wasps he is the player in the forwards that we worry about most. It’s great to be able to build a relationship with him on the pitch where he is not trying to knock the hell out of me."

England fans will be hoping this imposing pair can give the Springboks something to worry about at the Stade de France.

Mark Orlovac is a BBC Sport journalist based in London. He will be based in Paris for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:17 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

I believed that at the beggining of the world cup all england needed was a good wake up call and they were given it by south africa, and i was really happy about that in a way (i'm english btw), yes i would have liked them to win however if they had won they would have never got this far. Now we really know what england are made of and i wish them the best of luck in going the whole way. i will be cheering for them as soon as the whisle sounds. go on ENGLAND!!

  • 3.
  • At 09:02 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

it's great to see these two men getting some media attention. they've been fantastic since the first match against RSA and i'll be looking for shaw to smash through botha : )

i'll resist commenting on farrell... ; )

  • 4.
  • At 10:04 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • 1 leg less wrote:

HAHAHA the Saffa's response is quite funny, esp. the reporter extracting the urine from Jake and John.

  • 5.
  • At 10:18 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bert wrote:

Being ready for Battle does not mean that one will win the battle...Remember that the BOKS are ready for everything that England throws at them...especially the turn over ball....they have perfected scoring from turnover...
The Springboks should win this convincingly...Seriously, how can England beat the boks right now...They are a lot better than they get credit for....Don't build false hope in your team that you dispised a few weeks ago...

Who in the England camp had the bright idea that breakdowns should be contested? What a difference to see everyone in the side get back to their feet and go looking for ball or contact as a matter of life and death.

The handling in the backs and kicking from hand still give you palpitations. Some of the covering back eg by Tait is clumsy. Any interceptions or quick turnovers and goodbye England.

At least you can believe England will give the Boks a contest this time.If they can keep the Boks below 20 points they have a great chance. But will 15 or so points from Jonny Wilkinson be enough?

Who in the England camp had the bright idea that breakdowns should be contested? What a difference to see everyone in the side get back to their feet and go looking for ball or contact as a matter of life and death.

The handling in the backs and kicking from hand still give you palpitations. Some of the covering back eg by Tait is clumsy. Any interceptions or quick turnovers and goodbye England.

At least you can believe England will give the Boks a contest this time.If they can keep the Boks below 20 points they have a great chance. But will 15 or so points from Jonny Wilkinson be enough?

  • 8.
  • At 11:59 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Carior wrote:

No one is expecting the English to win, I would love the boys to retain the trophy but, well, my head says no.

I dont know how everyone else feels but this squad have gone two matches further than i thought they would and win or lose on Saturday the spirit and stones shown by this squad shows that English sportsman do have balls, and can step it up and dig in when the chops are down, they have shown the fight that has been lacking from nearly all english sport, particularly football, for the last however many years.


  • 9.
  • At 02:23 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • jonathan inggs wrote:

you ppl must be on crack! how can you even claim the mediocrity you call english rugby is even capable of a win. please. boring rugby may have worked against a choking side like france, but hell even aussie was a walk in the park. please stop fooling yourself. don't make yourself into your football side- average yet they reckon they are world beaters. common, how many games do you ppl start and can't compete in. 2 world wars and two world cups; think you should go back to claiming the world wars.... ps- how do you ppl still let your media function?

  • 10.
  • At 05:41 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

In response to post 9. Would you prefer it if we all said we had no chance and handed South Africa victory before kick-off? Get a grip.

"Boring" rugby has got us to a final and we're still entitled to hope for, rather than expect, a win. Also in our last two games I'd argue that our rugby was better to watch than that of Oz or France.

The animosity in your post suggests your team has already fallen by the wayside and you're feeling a little envious.

  • 11.
  • At 06:03 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

I actually feel sorry for the English side. The press and English supporters are putting huge pressure on the side - now expecting them to beat the South African's.
We have all seen what pressure does to the menbtally weak English side.
The only reason they are still in the cup is because of low expectations during the 1/4 and semi finals - not to mention poor performances by the opposition.

  • 12.
  • At 08:58 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Orrible wrote:

First of all, I think the boys in white can do it, but it will be close, very, very close.

Second, to Ted, English side mentally weak? Have you been watching the same competition. Ok against USA and the Saffers at the start we weren't there but what has got us to the final, please note, FINAL, is and sudden realisation and mental and physical toughness.

To all the Southern Hemisphere guys (mainly Kiwis I think) who keep on saying we play boring rugby, maybe if you did you'd win a world cup and get a chance to defend it in the FINAL 4 years later. Think on.

  • 13.
  • At 09:00 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Matt Davies wrote:

you guys are right. England have no chance of winning this game.
just like the last one, and the one before that, they didn't even make it out of the group did they?

Bring on Saturday!

  • 14.
  • At 09:38 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Whilst I agree that Habana poses a serious threat for England, and yes he may go down as one of the greatest wingers in history one thing he certainly is not is the fastest! It was only a couple of weeks ago that a certain Ngwenya of USA comfortably skinned him on the outside....or has South African arrogance conveniently erased the incident...

  • 15.
  • At 09:56 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • gareth wrote:

well, if we win or lose i'm proud of the boys of what they've achieved. well, obv we are world beaters, being in the world cup final is kind of an indication. And to anyone on this, quite alot of people actually, go back to whereever you came from and go and organise a 7th - 8th playoff or sumthin. You aint in the final and it makes you crazy, just shut the hell up! TED YOU FEEL SORRY FOR THE ENGLISH SIDE?? MENTALLY WEAK?? AFTER WHAT EVERY1 BEEN SAYIN BOUT THE SIDE, 'WORST WORLD CHAMPIONS' AND ALL THAT, IF THEY WERE MENTALLY WEAK WE WOULDNT HAVE GOT OUT OV THE GROUP STAGES!! GIVE YOUR SYMPATHY TO THE ROO'S, KIWIS AND A FEW OF THE CELTS WHO ARE CRYIN IN THEIR BEERS, LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY, COME ON BOYS!!!!

  • 16.
  • At 10:01 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Jono D wrote:

Casting my eye over the comments made and in particular those of South African origin, I sincerely hope the views expressed are shared by the South African team itself: the history of great defeats is littered with the corpses of the over-confident, including 15 Australians, 15 Frenchmen and 15 New Zealanders. Make no mistake, England will play with great heart this time and in doing so, on reflection, will consider this tournament an overwhelming success, whatever the result. The same view will not be shared in South Africa if their team loses. Pressure is a powerful factor and a great leveller. England know it well. To the South African team: bring your hearts, guts, spines and brains with you if you intend to prize the Webb Ellis trophy from England's grasp - you will need them.

  • 17.
  • At 10:26 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • soundrediscovery wrote:

Good luck England, but SA are the better side and should win. That was true though of NZ v France, Aus v Eng, France v Eng, Wales v Fiji, France v Argentina.....
My prediction is that 36 days after the Boks beat England 36 nothing it will be a 36 point ball game with Jonny kicking a winning drop goal from 1 point behind 36 mins into the 2nd half or 36 secs into overtime.....
England to win 19 -17! (on sunday I'll wake up to reality.....)

  • 18.
  • At 10:40 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Martin Johnston wrote:

Whilst England have been criticised for playing boring rugby the South Africans too can play the same game if they want to - witness the Fiji game where they went back to pack rugby to pull away when things got close. If England try to bore their way to victory I am afraid they will meet their match by a team that is perfectly capable of doing the same.

  • 19.
  • At 11:04 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Leo wrote:

Ted the only thing that has got england this far is their mental strength.

We can beat the south africans .. it may not be pretty but we can do it.

Is you team still in the RWC?

  • 20.
  • At 11:07 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Jonathan (#9) and Ted (#10) - your wisdom and insight are uncanny. If only we could compete with your superior intellect then England might just have a chance!

  • 21.
  • At 11:11 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

I must admit to be extremely confused by some of the comments on this and other boards! The word 'boring' keeps being quoted in relation to the England side. Well I don't know what these other people have been watching, but I certainly wouldn't call it boring. I along with all my fellow fans at the pub have been on the edge of our seats and have barly a finger nail left between us. I will admit that it may not be the most attractive rugby in the world and thinking back to 1991, I'm pleased that this team are continuing to improve and play to the strengths that made them World Champions 4 years ago. 'Ugly' rugby - Yes! 'Hard' rugby - Certainly! 'Effective' rugby - Absolutely! 'Boring' rugby - Your having a laugh!

Can't wait to see what we can throw at SA on Saturday!

Allez Les Blancs!!!

  • 22.
  • At 11:22 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Martin Johnston wrote:

Whilst England have been criticised for playing boring rugby the South Africans too can play the same game if they want to - witness the Fiji game where they went back to pack rugby to pull away when things got close. If England try to bore their way to victory I am afraid they will meet their match by a team that is perfectly capable of doing the same.

  • 23.
  • At 11:40 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ron Higgins wrote:

I get sick of people banging on about how good N.Z. and Aus and France are and now the Boks, Dont wipe the England Team off the score board just yet, we have the players and the skill to remain world champions.
Its time to get behind the lads and show em some real support.
Yes its gonna be a hard game and yes we can WIN it.
Make no bones about it the lads will come out to play rugby, ugly rugby or not the team will have one thing in mind and thats a Win.

  • 24.
  • At 11:54 AM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I think that our boys in white deserve great praise for the grit and determination that they have show so far. I dont know about anybody else but i dont think you can say that last saturday night was in anyway boring rugby. COME ON ENGLAND, BRING IT HOME AGAIN.

  • 25.
  • At 12:42 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ian in London wrote:

I've been reading the blog - and comments - with great enjoyment.

If I may I'd like to offer three points: By far the most important is to salute T J Kelly (post No 7). Spot on mate - that's what I and my middle-aged beer bellied ex-playing chums have been screaming at the telly (and at Twickenham, particularly on that awful night against Argentina) for years.

The second point is - has anyone else experienced the embarrassment of starting all those songs you knew so well only to stare hopelessly at each other as the third (or even second) lines fail to come to mind? We must have started five or six last Saturday before resorting to the mime version of swing low.

Finally I'm afraid I can't stop myself from commenting on the whinging from some of the the southern hemisphere supporters. I know its not important. I merely reflect - with some awe it has to be said - on the "spin" that characterises brits as whinging poms.

  • 26.
  • At 12:52 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Carenegian wrote:

i thought this discussion was meant to be about shaw and kay vs those two wretched south africans in the row? i would love our two boys to really front up and follow the front 3s example, matfield is a class act but i dont rate botha one bit.

it will be a close game, i have no doubt, but i think sa will score 2 tries to 1 but the golden boy will keep us hanging on in there. i cannot wait for saturday, i'm already so so nervous.

come on england, whatever happens, we are most proud of you !

  • 27.
  • At 12:52 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

What would you call the 7th/8th place play off in the World Cup if there were one?

The Bledisloe Cup.

  • 28.
  • At 12:54 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Carenegian wrote:

i thought this discussion was meant to be about shaw and kay vs those two wretched south africans in the row? i would love our two boys to really front up and follow the front 3s example, matfield is a class act but i dont rate botha one bit.

it will be a close game, i have no doubt, but i think sa will score 2 tries to 1 but the golden boy will keep us hanging on in there. i cannot wait for saturday, i'm already so so nervous.

come on england, whatever happens, we are most proud of you !

In response to post no.15: Ngwenya actually comes from Zimbabwe. What do expect from an African? They are the fastest runners in the world. I am sure more of you will back me on this...

  • 30.
  • At 01:48 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • SpringboksAllTheWay wrote:

To Andrew Dean Comment 11.

Firstly you should lookat what can give you food poisoning, it doesn't acctually mean they were poisened, it just means they ate food that was not cooked properly .

Second you have some cheek calling out an SA player for cheating, when you Aussies do it all the time, just look at Eng-Aus game, first ENG were penalised at the scrum twice until the Ref caught on that it was AUS not binding properly, you guys have gotten away with this for years.

Dont get me wrong on this I dont condone cheating no matter who is playing, all teams do it and all teams get away with it, but dont let the pot call the kettle black.

  • 31.
  • At 01:53 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Never underestimate the English , this will be one helluva battle. I think that the build up game s have not be the best for SA and so the the English have one up here.
But it might be good if SA wins , as politics as they are , the next SA team will be selected on skin colour and not merit.
It's sad, but that thats Africa for you.
Maybe we can field Nelson at full back, Mbeki at first five eights and Mugabe for his side stepping and swerve at second five eighths !

  • 32.
  • At 01:59 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Fergy wrote:

T J Kelly (post 7) - top anaylsis, any chance ITV could get you in to replace Staurt Barnes?
To the SH - chill out guys. It's never clever to present opinion as fact and then declaim it to one and all.

  • 33.
  • At 03:32 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • sa will win but i'm supporting england wrote:

in fairness england did really well to get through to the final. however they should remain realistic. sure, ppl claimed that england hadnt a hope in hell against australia and france and england did beat them but not convincingly and neither of the 2 sides played particularly well in the wc. not that beeating them isnt a good them and it isnt that england didnt deserve to get to where they are but sa have probably played tne best rugby in the tournament- their scrum is strong, montgomery's kicking is 10 better than jonny's and they have scored 9 tries in the last 2 games. how many tries have england got? i'm supporting england in the final, i certainly dont want sa to win it. however english fans, this game will be different, in which the team won't dominate and won't get things their own way. sa will prove that france and australia were simply chokers.

  • 34.
  • At 03:38 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Thompson wrote:

All I here from my Ozy, NZ and RSA mates is boring English rugby, we only play 10 man rugby, OOH look at the super 14s with all it open play and running, blar blarr blarrr!!!!!!
What they all play is a watered down game of 15s what we call 10-a-side , what they really want is to get rid of the front 5 big ugly players and have non contested scrums.
In the words of captain black adder its “Bollocks” – rugby is made up of 15 players and 5 of them are there to be big, ugly and boring. If you lot down south can’t hack it then get out of the kitchen

  • 35.
  • At 04:06 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • simon taylor wrote:

If I go back to my playing days, I remember my coach saying it's not how you win, but winning that counts. No one will remember all the details of the game, but a one point win in the last minute of the game and that's it, over and done with.

England have struggled and we've all been through the mill with them, but if we win by one point in the last minute - that'll do for me!

  • 36.
  • At 04:11 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • coastie wrote:

The desire to win, will out play the Bok's, mark my words.
Good luck England the nation is behind you.

  • 37.
  • At 05:11 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • James Lloyd wrote:

I am supporting SA, but I go to an English Boarding School, so I can understand how some of the English feel that they have a chance of winning. But in reality, they've got no chance.
The English tight-five is excellent, I grant you, but SA has a far better pack than the Aussies or France, and so England won't be able to dominate. Bakkies and Matfield are the best second row pairing in the world.
The SA Back Row is far superior to the English, so expect lots of turnovers.
And the backs. The backs speak for themselves.
Sorry boys, the world champions will be green and gold.

  • 38.
  • At 06:14 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Charly wrote:

I just dont understand all this hostility..I mean for crunchie's sake it a game of rugby!! May the best team win end of story .......

  • 39.
  • At 07:26 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • martio wrote:

Theres a few guys in the England that will have their last game on saturday, so i would imagine that they will give it their all, what have they to lose?
I hope Jonny can replicate WC 2003 with a drop goal in the dying seconds!!
Best of luck to both teams!!

  • 40.
  • At 08:11 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • John wrote:

As a South African in England, I find it refreshing to see how the England national team are being supported so vigorously! BUT... Where was all of this pride and support when the lads were being drubbed by South Africa 4 weeks ago?
Perhaps if the country had a bit more belief in its players in good times and bad, the team's moral would not have sunk as low in the first place. What a magnificent show they have put on despite English indifference until they started winning again!
Let's hope the final turns out to be a match to remember - both teams playing their very best rugby!!!

  • 41.
  • At 10:55 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Bathrugby wrote:

After reading through the last 40-odd comments i feel there are a few points that need to be reviewed, and not in a biased and ignorant manner.

First of is the alleged lack of support for the english rugby team at the start of the tournament. I can tell you first hand that this is rubbish, i have seen every game in a pup and on every visit it has been packed to the rafters with cheering englishmen all putting in the effort to support their country. I have personally lost my voice since the start of the world cup due to the continuous cheering and shouting.

Secondly is the accusation of borring rugby. I think to call the Eng v Aus or the Eng v Frn game borring is lunacy. I havent seen games this tense since the last world cup. We play to our strengths, its called intelligent rugby, if other countries cant play intelligent rugby then i think that tells you something!?

Third is the idea that England have fluked their way through the world cup. Im sorry but you dont beat France (Who also managed to beat New Zealand) and Australia (A team that do not take defeat to the English lightly) through luck.

The England rugby team has done a whole nation proud. And yes, i admit South Africa are more likely to win but i do honestly believe the England team have the grit and determination to win.

Finally, if there was a team in this tournament that you wanted to use as an example of what rugby is about then surely England stands head and shoulders above the rest for the refusal to give up and their sportsmanship.

Come on England!!!!!!!

  • 42.
  • At 10:59 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • imran wrote:

Its great to hear the bullishness of the england supporters.I a Bok fan working in UK cannot understand how the media swings high and low with the heroics and mediocrity in their sport.One thing for sure the rugby guys have got more balls than their overpaid football brats.Got their entire nation behind them but i firmly beleive that if Fourie Du Preez is not contained the RWC is heading to Johannesburgh.England can match the Boks up front but this game will be won by the team with more vision and adventure.England have Johnny but the Boks have an entire backline that needs contaianment.Sorry guys , this cup been booked on South African Airways one way to Jo burg!

  • 43.
  • At 01:22 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tim rugby wrote:

Two teams have made it to the final,two teams have played so well to get there,two teams,one final.
Can anybody really state the outcome.....
Don,t think so....!
Both teams come on,lets show the world what rugby is all about!
May the best man win.

  • 44.
  • At 03:36 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • david thixton wrote:

I have read all your comments on the final: which team is stronger, this team is better,that team is boring, France did this,Ireland did that, The Australians play a dirty game ....etc etc.


How about including them in your drone petty little arguements? Talk about the spunk of a semi amateur team which in the end finished higher ranked than the All Blacks and Australia.
What is the yearly budget for the English Union or the French Union 150 million pounds 170 million Euros. The Argentine Union survives on 2.2 million dollars and in Buenos Aires district alone there are 82 rugby clubs.
Keep up your childish squabbling, I think you have forgotten what Rugger used to and still means elsewhere

  • 45.
  • At 05:27 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

"was only a couple of weeks ago that a certain Ngwenya of USA comfortably skinned him on the outside....or has South African arrogance conveniently erased the incident..."

Its simple physics. The player running forward has the momentum to beat the player who has to change direction and accelerate. Habana's speed is evident when others players start from a similiar position as he, but get left behind. That is speed.

  • 46.
  • At 05:35 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

"Jonathan (#9) and Ted (#10) - your wisdom and insight are uncanny. If only we could compete with your superior intellect then England might just have a chance!"

Acceptance is half the battle.

  • 47.
  • At 05:42 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

"But it might be good if SA wins , as politics as they are , the next SA team will be selected on skin colour and not merit."

If that does happen as you predict, then the Boks will be in the same position as England.
I suppose they could even persuade a few players from around the world to play for them as well.

  • 48.
  • At 05:45 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Fiora wrote:

What a wonderfully entertaining read.. At the end of the day be it boring rugby,be it intelligent, be it whatever...The Score board is the only thing that counts. All the teams worked hard and two teams came out on top. Say what you will about England, say what you will about Sth Africa. They deserve to be where they are : in the finals. P.S. #45 - kudos to the Pumas and to the Samoans, the Fijians, the Canadians etc. etc. etc. but since when did cash make a good rugby player? Perhaps the sour grapes are giving you indigestion?

  • 49.
  • At 07:44 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bob Kudelski wrote:

GO ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 50.
  • At 09:41 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

I'm an England fan with a Saffer wife, so i've got to be objective :)
I am wholly behind England, however, unless we defend significantly better than we have been doing, i fear the worst. Yes, we have Wilkinson who has effectively kicked us to the finals, however, SA have Mongomery who i feel can match Wilkinson in the kicking department. Also, be on the lookout for some "inventive" kicking when given some space from the Boks (look at the game against Argentina, where the Boks were trying some audacious (tho not too effective) long range kicking... this could be a sign of something to watch out for. I am concerned that we do not have players with the pace to pick up Habana should he get up a full head of steam, and purely the fact that he seems to read the game so well for interceptions is why i think that we are in for a very difficult match. Will the England defence be so wary about containing him that they forget about other duties and allow some other guy to score? Or will they just let him play his normal game, in which case he WILL score a try. I would like nothing more than England to retain the title, however, the way that die Bokke played in their last match, i see Habana scoring from an intercepted pass and then us being put in a VERY difficult situation...
It will be VERY interesting and i'll be cheering against my wife all the way! :-)

  • 51.
  • At 10:01 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Corne van Vuuren wrote:

Hi there all you biased supporters of the England team.

Fact Ngwenya is not playing for England - sorry but true.

Comment 46 say we erased the memory of that try, no we didn't Habana was very humble in defeat and admitted that Ngwenya outsmarted him by catching him on the back foot when he swerved inside and then ran outside him. If any of you out there know anything about the defensive line a back must run in defense it is to keep the runner on your outside.

Fantastic wits and running capability by Ngwenya, and to me the try of the tournament. Fortunately for us Habana has made up by scoring (of his 8 tries) 4 brilliant individual tries himself.

I personally believe that the game will be well contested by both teams each having their own strenghts and weaknesses, and as mush as you want to believe the Boks have no passion or fire, perhaps if you knew a little more of the South African psyche then you would know that they do. The fact is who are we to say, guess, speculate, percieve as to what the mood, motivation, guts and most important of all ability to handle the pressure of a final for any of these two teams are.

Good luck to the English may the sun rise on your land and may the Bokke bring the cup home.

By the way I was a Loosehead prop, and would have loved to have the speed to pull a move like Ngwenya

  • 52.
  • At 10:21 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I support England and all of these opinions and points being put across are good reading but at the end of the day its down to the players and coaches. Previous results dont matter.. its how you play on the day. Ofcourse i want England to create history by retaining the World Cup but then again Im looking forward to a great game of rugby. Best of luck to both teams!

  • 53.
  • At 10:41 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David Burger wrote:

Interesting reading all the comments from the english fans. They range from pretty honest analysis to pure arrogance and the ridiculous (the food poisoning of 95 by some mystical force is utter nonsense and you know it).

It is amazing how the english are able to go from perenial world cup losers in sport (with the excpetion of an excellent Clive Woodward team in 2003 and the 1966 football team) to sudden "world beaters" before and during any world cup regardless of reality.

Show some humility for once - you beat the poorest Australian team in more than 2 decades by 2 points and a very average french team through ill discipline on the french part). You don't score tries and rely so heavily on Jonny Wilkinson (who South African's have nothing but the utmost respect for btw).

It would be great to hear english fans say what a great hardworking and exciting team they are facing on Saturday. Stop mouthing off and calling South Africans arrogant. Its the pot calling the kettle black and the fact is we have every right to be confident - we have worked damn hard to achieve what we have. We have also played the best rugby of any team - have a look at the stats.

The lack of respect for other countries and people is why its not only the Aussies that "dislike" you! Ask the Welsh, Irish, French, Scottish, South Africans, Aussies and Kiwi's.

  • 54.
  • At 11:11 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Fatt Dunning wrote:

Ted, perhaps you want to come out and say what's really on your mind. Judging by your posts it's not much.

  • 55.
  • At 11:52 AM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Briwat wrote:

Ted posted his comments (no 12) at 6:03am. He was obviously still asleep and dreaming. England will win on Saturday. This is knock-out rugby at the highest level and previous form before and during the competition counts for nothing. It will be down to character, raw courage and discipline - England have all three. SA will fold under the pressure they will not be able to comprehend or combat. They will crumble as the realisation of defeat dawns. Their notorious indiscipline will take control and JW will have a field day. England will be resolute SA will be destitute.

  • 56.
  • At 12:11 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Davis wrote:

Forget the Aussie game and forget the french game they are history. Saturday is a one off game of 80 minutes to glory or ignominy. 80 minutes of willpower and bone wearying physical effort. nerves will be strained and i feel that the side which gets on with the game in a businesslike manner will overcome these the best, I just hope it's England. My heart says England but my head says that the Boks may have too much all round strength for us. I will always remember what happened in Africa in 1974 though where a wily but immensely courageous Ali took foreman to the edge through sheer will power and will to win so the underdog still has a place in sport. As long as England show this same resolve I could forgive them coming second. What I dont want to see from England is capitulation and going through the motions, accepting that getting so close is a miracle and we dun good boys. As long as the lads give their all and convince me that wearing that white shirt matters to them then there will be no losers. I still have a gut feeling there are surprises to come though and so far The Veldt greens have been in their comfort zone and it is up to england to attempt to move them out of it. by the way I have played rugby and know how hard and long 80 minutes can be. but England 17:South Africa 11 is my prediction and i think blood may well be shed.

  • 57.
  • At 12:30 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • morris wrote:

one thing is for sure to all u south africans wether england win or loose we will not b bitter! all u will still b able 2 here around the world and the stadiums is....SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT, COMING FOR TO CARRY ME HOME, SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT COMING FOR TO CARRY ME HOME!!!


  • 58.
  • At 12:37 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Shaw and Kay will complete a competitive front 5, the problem for England is elsewhere.

In the first game SA was able to bypass the English defensive system rather than successfully confront it.

If their scrum is under more pressure this time, they will have to deal with it more directly to ensure the expected victory.

Can SA drive forward "to gather in the mid-field congestion during phase play". Here in lies the key to victory. That and attack from turnovers and clean set play possession.

The failure of SA to score any tries from their own possession in the SF could be a worry for them. Of course given the lead given them, they
did not have to make the play.

But for the lucky bounce try against France the English would have trailed 0-9. One wonders whether they could have recovered from that in a KO game.

As to past finals.

Australia won with defence vs England in 1991. SA won it with defence in 1995. In 2003 England constructed a try off a Dallaglio run and link with the open side backs, not just the drop goal. Lets just hope the winning side scores the odd try (as much or more than the losing team). This tournament has been too defence orientated. Not that any team winning by their defence will care (1991 1995).

  • 59.
  • At 12:50 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Richard - Ali beat Froeman by rope a dope. The same way France beat the AB's in 99 and 2007. They came to play in the second half when "everyone" thought the game was over and it was time for the AB's to "play". By the time the AB's were aware of deja vu, it was another KO game that had got away from them.

  • 60.
  • At 12:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

David Burger #53

I think you'll find that most of the ‘arrogant' and ‘ridiculous’ English comments on this and many other blogs are initially provoked by disparaging and aggressive jibes from people of other nationalities (and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the start of this blog - nobody was having a go at anybody before the usual suspects kicked off at #9 and #10). You yourself began your own post reasonably enough before resorting to the usual name calling - lumping all Englishmen together as arrogant, perennial losers, before finishing off by claiming that we are all disliked by just about every other rugby playing country that you could think of. Not surprisingly, most of us English don’t go around accusing SA of poisoning other teams and we don’t think that all South Africans are arrogant, but we do take exception to those who say that all Englishmen are.

As has been said so many times before on these blogs, the vast majority of English people are aware that our team has over-achieved, and we are simply happy and surprised that we have made it to the final (through sheer guts and effort more than anything else). We accept that SA have a quality side, and a better team than us on paper (and based on recent results), but that does not mean that we are not entitled to praise our team or believe that they have a chance of winning on Saturday.

So why did you feel it necessary to attempt to denigrate England’s performances by belittling their opposition and making all the usual blanket insults? If anyone, I think you’ll find that it is now you who is guilty of being “the pot calling the kettle black”.

Come on England!!!!! (or is that too arrogant for anybody?)

  • 61.
  • At 01:44 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • rene wrote:

Imagine it is Saturday 20th October 2007.

The boks lead 56-0 at halftime, Habana has already scored 8 tries, John Smit turns to his men and says, lets go to the pub and have Habana finish off the game.

Confidently Habana agrees and says he will report back after the game.

45 minutes later Habana rocks up at the pub and tells them the final score was 96-3.

John Smit is outraged and demands to know how England got to score 3 points.

Habana replies "sorry boys, I was sent off in the last 10 minutes.

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