RWC memory: Boks’ 2007 masterclass

In the next instalment of a series looking at our favourite World Cup memories, CRAIG LEWIS recalls the Springboks’ 36-0 annihilation of England at the 2007 World Cup.

Has there ever been a more complete World Cup performance?

I’m not so sure. When one considers that England would finish as runners-up at the 2007 World Cup, one can still only marvel at the way the Boks made a mockery of their opponents in an earlier pool game.

This was a match in which Fourie du Preez produced a performance that he would undoubtedly have loved to be able to bottle and then repeat on countless occasions. It was a day on which he had the Midas touch, and everything turned to gold.

As a collective, the Springboks simply ran riot, and although I could wax lyrical for hours about this performance, there is a more interesting anecdote about this that I only recently came across.

Back then Eddie Jones had been brought into the Bok management group as a coaching consultant, and in his recently released autobiography, the now England coach revealed just how dominant the South Africans really were on that day.

‘I had never been involved with a leading side that had been as dominant as the Springboks were against England, the defending world champions, in the opening 40 minutes,’ he writes. ‘England were extremely poor but South Africa steamrollered them in our second Pool A game of the World Cup. We were 20-0 ahead at the break …

‘I was engrossed in the game and fascinated by the player-led discussion in our dressing room. No one seemed to care that we were 20 points clear – the gulf between the teams was so wide it felt as if we could end up winning 100-0 if we wanted. Instead, the leading players made a startling tactical choice. They were happy to cede possession for much of the second half so that they could practice their defence.

‘This wasn’t arrogance but simply the decision of an intelligent team focused on their aim of going deep into the tournament. It also aligned with the South African mindset which relishes the physicality and brutal hits of rugby. I didn’t object to their plan because my role was not to dictate strategy; it was to offer alternative ideas to make them less formulaic.’

What more can I say?

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Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP via Getty Images

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