No complaints at South African victory
South Africa will arrive home tomorrow as worthy rugby world champions.John Smit's team did what any successful team has to do at a World Cup - beat what is put in front of you.
South Africa will arrive home today as worthy rugby world champions.
John Smit's team did what any successful team has to do at a World Cup - beat what is put in front of you.
If you look at the teams South Africa played - England (twice), America, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Argentina - on their way to lifting the trophy, then they would certainly have taken that set of fixtures before the tournament started.
You could also argue that they won the competition without really shifting through the gears, and the final against England was an example of that.
It was never going to be an entertaining game. England knew what they had to do to try to win it, but South Africa got it right tactically.
They dispersed players into the back areas of the pitch - Percy Montgomery, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana and occasionally the half-backs - to take care of England's kicking game.
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It was very difficult for England to have control of their kicking game, although they will feel aggrieved at the Mark Cueto try that was disallowed.
It was one of those decisions with the television match official that could have gone either way, and maybe Cueto was a little bit unlucky not to get the benefit of the doubt.
England reaching the final though, was a fantastic story. It was all about pride, passion and a realism of what they had to do.
If they had won the World Cup, then I think it would have eclipsed what Martin Johnson's team achieved in Australia four years ago.
To be challenging to win a World Cup in the future, I feel England have got to start developing both types of game. They have some outstanding forwards, but they must also look at becoming more of an attacking threat.
Sport is an interesting business.
Was it head coach Brian Ashton who turned things around, or was it the players? Unless you are involved in the England set-up, then it is impossible for anyone else to say.
It will be interesting now to see what happens in terms of any new contract for Ashton.
I will take lots of memories from the tournament, especially the performances of the minnows, the Islands teams like Tonga and Fiji, and, of course, Argentina, who produced a sparkling performance to beat France again and finish third in the World Cup.
England apart, it was a disappointing competition for the northern hemisphere nations, and certainly a team like Argentina blew out of the water this four-year plan that countries seem to have between World Cups.
Ireland and Scotland need to start looking at their domestic competition - the Magners League - and make some serious decisions.
The Magners League has got to be a competition where the top Irish and Scottish players feature in it far more often than they do at the moment. I cannot recall Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll playing league rugby in Wales too often, for instance.
For Wales, it is vital now that they put in place the elite performance director, and then go from there.
Wales now have a home game against the new world champions on November 24, and it is certainly going to be a strange situation for coach Nigel Davies.
He knows that he won't be in a job after that game, and no-one really knows what sort of team South Africa will bring to Cardiff.
In many ways it underlines the vicious circle of it all. Countries like Wales need the finances, but is it going to be a worthwhile game?