Was it ugly? Definitely.
Does that matter? No.
Last night we had another reminder in the laws of world cup rugby. Laws that it seems are impossible to remember for 4 years.
Last weeks law: games are won and lost up front.
This weeks law: semis and finals are ugly. He who plays ugliest, wins.
(sublaw: the French can’t play two blinders in a row)
I thought one of the best reviews I read of the game was by ferdy at Ruggerblogger who said amongst other things:
England surprised the French by climbing on board early with an opportunist Josh Lewsey try off a French fumble from the kick off. This proved to be the only try of the test as as both sides closed down for a more physical encounter – exchanging penalties, kicking for field position and occasionally having a go at each other’s line.
In short, the French got sucked down a blind alley that the England pack, gutsy defence and Johny’s boot strangled them in. Why are the poms so good at this style of game? Here’s a pretty good explanation in a comment left by Bigacres:
As a Pom I doubted that we would beat the Gold and Greens. Without doubt your backs were and have been for years World Class. We have struggled for the last four years to produce any form. I have watched the Super 12 and The Tri nations thinking what a great advert both are for flowing rugby.
Meanwhile our English Premiership is often just a full on arm wrestle. The only required outcome is a win. Forget pretty, flowing or entertaining. All this means that when it is tight and a win is a win, thats all we try and do. This then puts us in a good position in any tournament.
Only real surprise is why The Aussies and All Blacks have no plan B. When the flowing rugby is not working what next? Winning pretty is not needed it would be nice, the last time we tried it was in 1991 when Campo conned us in to thinking that we had to in the World Cup final!!! Outcome an Aussie win.
Player wise, again Sheridan worked as a human wrecking ball in the scrum. Easter had another blinder. He carries brilliantly and was everywhere. Surely he’s cemented his place, or will the England back-row black hole claim another scalp?
So they’re through, but can they do it? Why not? Their opponents in the final – South Africa – have shown the ability to turn off in the last couple of games and most of their point scoring comes from capitalising on mistakes and turnovers. If England can limit these, it’ll be another armwrestle and we’ve seen how good they are at those.
Some details and stats.
Pens: Beauxis 3
Pens: Wilkinson 2
France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Cédric Heymans, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, 8 Julien Bonnaire, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Serge Betsen, 5 Jérôme Thion, 4 Fabien Pelous, 3 Pieter de Villiers, 2 Raphaël Ibañez (captain), 1 Olivier Milloud.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Sébastien Chabal, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Frédéric Michalak, 21 Christophe Dominici, 22 Clément Poitrenaud.
England: 15 Jason Robinson, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Mike Catt, 11 Josh Lewsey, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Martin Corry, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Phil Vickery (captain), 2 Mark Regan, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Lawrence Dallaglio, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Peter Richards, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Dan Hipkiss.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch judges: Paul Honiss (New Zealand), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Television match official: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales), Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assessor: Bob Francis (New Zealand)