Lawes reviews England's Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to South Africa
England were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night after failing to cling on to a nine-point lead against South Africa in the semi-finals. The Springboks had been dire for the majority of the match but overcame the Northern Hemisphere team thanks to a converted try and penalty late on. And ahead of the match, World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont raised eyebrows on a train every time his phone rang as his ringtone was the theme to The Great Escape.
According to the Daily Mail, former England and British & Irish Lions player Beaumont travelled in standard class on a train from Marseille to Paris to watch the semi-final showdown at the Stade de France. And he happily posed for selfies during his journey.
Beaumont’s role with World Rugby means he has to stay impartial – but his choice of ringtone certainly attracted a few looks.
The famous theme was composed by Elmer Bernstein and was used throughout the epic 1963 American war film The Great Escape, which stars Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough. The theme is commonly played by brass bands at sporting event in support of England teams.
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England dominated much of their clash with South Africa, despite being underdogs, and gained the upper hand as Owen Farrell nudged over two early penalties. Springboks fly-half Manie Libbok put his side on the board midway through the first half but suffered the ignominy of being hauled off for Handre Pollard with 10 minutes of the opening period still remaining.
Farrell added a third penalty before Libbok was hooked, with the Saracens No 10 booting over a fourth after Pollard had opened his account for the night.
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With Steve Borthwick’s men 12-6 ahead at the interval, the Northern Hemisphere team would have been under strict instructions to hold onto their lead after the break. And when Farrell sent over a drop-goal 13 minutes into the second half, there were genuine hopes that England would go on to cause a huge upset and progress to the showpiece event.
But South Africa had other ideas and launched their comeback 11 minutes from the end as RG Snyman crossed the whitewash for the only try of the night, before Pollard converted.
England had opportunities to build their score late on as they gained territory deep in the South Africa half. But after Ellis Genge conceded a penalty at the scrum moments before the end, Pollard stepped up to kick a penalty from just inside the England half to secure a 16-15 win for the Springboks.
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