ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS: Ben Earl proves he is the breakthrough star

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS: Ben Earl proves he is the breakthrough star of the whole tournament as Steve Borthwick’s side say goodbye to some excellent servants

  • South Africa beat England 16-15 to set up second consecutive World Cup final 
  • Ben Earl impressed in many games as England’s No 8 after a stellar tournament
  • South Africa face New Zealand in the final to decide the winner of the World Cup
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

England agonisingly crashed out of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, losing by just one point to holders South Africa.

Steve Borthwick’s side started very brightly, before substitute Handre Pollard slotted a 78th minute penalty from half-way to break English hearts.

South Africa set up a second consecutive World Cup final, this time against New Zealand, as they look to win back-to-back tournaments. 

England will take some strong positives from the tournament after a difficult campaign leading up to it, but will undoubtedly look back at another what if moment as they search for a second World Cup since 2003.

Here are Mail Sport’s player ratings from the World Cup, courtesy of NIK SIMON.

England fullback Freddie Steward has a strong tournament, but could sharpen up in attack

South Africa trailed England for the entirety of the game until Handre Pollard kicked well 

Ben Earl was the standout performer in Steve Borthwick’s side and will be the No 8 onwards


Dan Cole 7: A shrewd move to bring him back for one last hurrah. Scrum expertise will be missed.

Theo Dan 5: Young dynamo in attack but inexperience at the set-piece meant his game time was limited.

Ellis Genge 6: One of the team’s emotional leaders but collapse of the scrum on Saturday was a nightmare end.

Jamie George 8: Lineout throwing was one of England’s weapons. Borthwick still needs a couple more years from him.

Joe Marler 7: A rock whose strength shored up the scrum post-Eddie Jones. Enjoyed his last dance.

Kyle Sinckler 5A difficult campaign with injuries. Lost his starting jersey and will have a tough review.

Will Stuart 5: Could be England’s starting tighthead in the Six Nations as the next best scrummager after Cole.

Jack Walker 4: Given one shot off the bench as the lack of depth at hooker in the absence of Luke Cowan-Dickie was exposed.

Locks Ollie Chessum 7: Here to stay. His height is a point of difference at the lineout and his defensive intensity was good.

Handre Pollard laughs after the game as his penalty sailed through the posts to win the game

Ollie Lawrence impressed in his debut World Cup campaign, and will look to become a regular

Maro Itoje 7: Flashes of his old self after a disappointing summer. Will take heart from muscling up against Eben Etzebeth.

George Martin 7: What an introduction against the Boks. A hard-hitting enforcer who can take over from Lawes.

Dave Ribbans 5: Moving to Toulon so his Test days are numbered. Not as dynamic as his contemporaries.

Tom Curry 6: So physical but his campaign will be remembered for his red card against Argentina.

Ben Earl 9: England’s breakthrough star, proving himself as a big-game player. Should own the No 8 jersey for a while.

Courtney Lawes 8: What a servant. Covered so much ground to dominate rucks and tackles in his final World Cup campaign.

Lewis Ludlam 5: Less prominent than he was during the Six Nations but always radiates positivity.

Billy Vunipola 5: Always playing catch-up after suspension. Test rugby has moved on to more dynamic No 8s.

Jack Willis 5: A star of French club rugby but didn’t break into the starting team before his injury. Now ineligible.

Danny Care 7: Had some match-winning moments off the bench. Unfortunate not to start.

Alex Mitchell 7: Went from being left out of the squad to the starting 9. Showed inexperience in early rounds but kicked well against Boks.

Ben Youngs 5: A glittering international career reached a quiet finale as England’s most capped player played a bit-part role.

Owen Farrell 7: Proved his big-game status with drop goals against Fiji and the Boks. Abrasiveness still rubs people up the long way.

George Ford 7: Delivered a performance for the ages against Argentina in England’s opening match. So smart but lacks Farrell’s physicality.

Ollie Chessum and Jamie George both had strong tournaments but will still be gutted

South Africa were forced to dig very deep to claim the win and set up the New Zealand clash

Marcus Smith 6: Shoehorned in at 15 to leave questions about his long-term position. But he has too much attacking talent to be cast aside.

Ollie Lawrence 5: Still looks like the most natural successor to Tuilagi but didn’t have the game-breaking impact he wanted.

Joe Marchant 7: Adapted to Borthwick’s game plan so well with his athletic ability. Imminent move to Paris is a real dilemma.

Manu Tuilagi 7: Perhaps the final flourish for the old wrecking ball. Finally had some luck in avoiding injuries.

Henry Arundell 6: Blazing five-try cameo against Chile but does not yet have the aerial prowess to fit the kick-heavy game plan.

Elliot Daly 7: Turned up in the semis with his best game of the competition. Lack of tries remains a team downfall.

Jonny May 7: Seized his opportunity as a late call-up. Used experience to adapt to game plan but now likely to make way.

Max Malins 5: Slipped out of favour as Daly and May locked down the wing jerseys. Move to Bristol to play full-back will be fascinating.

Freddie Steward 7: A titan under heavy pressure against the Boks. The best defensive full back in the world but could sharpen attack.

Owen Farrell often faces criticism from sections of England fans, but he played well again

Pollard kicking the game-winning penatly to set up the mouthwatering final against All Blacks

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