2023 Rugby World Cup: England vs. South Africa in the semifinals
Semifinals 2023 Rugby World Cup:
Venue Stade de France, Paris
Dates Saturday, 21 October Kick- off 2000 BST
Coverage Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, plus textbook updates on the BBC Sport website and app.
The phoney war is nearly over.
England are the only platoon through to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with a 100 record, progressing with five triumphs from five games.
They’re unbeaten, but not undoubted.
Palms over Argentina, Japan, Chile, Samoa and Fiji have kept England’s crusade purring steadily forward. Not all the triumphs have been persuading, but on each occasion they’ve ended up on the right side of the scoreline.
The caveat is that they’ve also been on the right side of the draw. On Saturday night, the velvet rope drops and they bash shoulders with the event’s big breakers.
Hear Rugby Union Weekly assay England’s chances South Africa- the defending titleholders, who legislated their own Parisian revolution last weekend by deposing the hosts have long set the kind of norms to which England trainer Steve Borthwick’s men aspire.
The Springboks are a platoon of gargantuan power and exhilarating pace, whose patterns run on well- worn grooves. They can overwhelm opponents with diesel grunt up the middle or out- gas them with pace out wide.
Former trainer Eddie Jones’ attempt to add confines to England eventually folded flat. After the last Rugby World Cup and that painful final defeat by South Africa, he hoped to mould a platoon that could change method and flip tacticsmid-match.
Rather the transition was fumbled and it was the victors who succeeded in accelerating their force. Jacques Nienaber, Rassie Erasmus, Mzwandile Stick- a long- standing guiding smarts trust- take the credit for that. They’ve had the time that Borthwick, appointed at the end of last time, hasn’t. And they’ve spent it well.
Since Japan 2019, they’ve overseen a gradational elaboration of their backline, bringing through playmakers Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse and elevating sevens specialist Kurt- Lee Arendse into the Test game. In the forwards, their deployment of game- changing impact reserves in the frontal row has changed the way Test rugby is played. And, while others have talked about the conception of mongrel players, they turned it into reality. Saturday’s relief cocotte is Deon Fourie. The 37- time-old converted from frontal row to back row nearly a decade agone , but, at this late stage in his career, he has regressed back to allow the Boks to carry redundant cover away in the team.
The detail in the Boks’ game runs to reams of similar small print and notes. England, by Borthwick’s admission, are working to a simpler plan, hoping their caption strengths are punchy enough to make up the difference. Whether they can or not divides opinion. One Rugby World Cup winner- Joel Stransky- said he’d” fall over backwards” in shock if South Africa lose.
Another- Will Greenwood- would be less surprised by an England palm. ” They’ve been erecting towards this,” said the former England Centre about the current side.
The night will not hold them motionless. However, if South Africa wins, they’ll have to be amazing.” There are a lot of unknowns surrounding the perception gap. How important did that hassle with France physically and emotionally drain South Africa, who are unchanged for their meeting with England? How important belief has erected behind the scenes of England’s siege intelligence? still, might a logged playing field be a further position one? If the rain falls as cast. Come Saturday evening, we will know.
Still, their claim to be serious contenders for the jewel will be suddenly and vividly realised, If England win.
The disbelievers and detractors will be answered and the cheer completely merited. Borthwick’s confidence in his strategy and approach will be amply demonstrated. Lose however- especially by a wide periphery- and those pretensions deteriorate to dust and ashes.
Either way, England’s day of reckoning has arrived. South Africa will take them to preliminarily unknown rugby mound, the brutal heights where titles are decided.
It’s time to step up or stand down.