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World Cup winning England coach Sir Clive Woodward takes aim at Boks

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Friday Oct 20, 2023

2003 Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward knows are thing or two about playing South Africa at a World Cup.

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Losing to the Springboks in the 1999 quarterfinals courtesy of a 5 drop goal performance from Jannie De Beer.

Four years later, Woodward would return with an England team built on the back of that 99 team. This time, England would prove to be too strong for South Africa as they put on a comprehensive performance to defeat the Boks 25 – 6 enroute to an undefeated pool series.

Another four years down the track, and it would be the Springboks who would take control of this World Cup rivalry as they thumped England 36 – 0 in their pool match-up.

In one of the most remarkable turnarounds in World Cup history, England would progress to the final, where they would once again meet the Boks. This time, proceedings would be far tighter but would ultimately end in a South African victory as they won 15 – 6.

It would take two more World Cup cycles before the rivals would meet again as they duked it out in the 2019 final.

Having comfortably beaten the All Blacks in their semi-final match-up, England were the hot favourites heading into the final.

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Rassie Erasmus and his Boks would have other ideas, however, as they overpowered England 32 – 12 in a sublime performance to lock up their third World Cup title.

Now set to face each other on Saturday evening in yet another high-stakes knockout World Cup fixture, Woodward has taken aim at where he feels the Boks are most vulnerable.

“I believe South Africa aren’t as fit as England, even with their replacements. The Springboks look to slow the game down at every opportunity,” he wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

“They rotate their side, and their backroom team are constantly on the field bringing on water.

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“England need to counter that. When South Africa look to slow things down, England need to speed it up. At line-outs and scrums, get the ball gone.

“Bringing on the likes of Genge and Arundell for the second half can maintain the tempo. England can’t just box kick, box kick, box kick. Part of the reason I’d go for Care over Mitchell is that he has a more varied kicking game and the eye to tap and go.”

Explaining that he felt France fell into a trap in the quarterfinals, Woodward said, “The Boks rely on playing the game on their terms. France were unrecognisable in the second half of their quarter-final. They were dragged into South Africa’s game plan and found it impossible to inject the pace they love.

“Whatever happens, it’s also crucial England don’t panic. These matches are normally very tight, so the key is that they stay in the contest.”

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