Five lessons from the third week of the World Cup, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Lood de Jager's physical approach benefits the Boks
With Victor Matfield ruled out of the Springboks' match against Scotland in Newcastle, De Jager was given the opportunity to wear the No 5 jersey. And he made the most of it, producing a Man of the Match performance. The 22-year-old was immense on attack and defence, making 10 carries over the advantage line and 16 tackles. He also cleaned out well at the rucks, scrummed strongly and secured four of the team's lineout throws while stealing one from the opposition. Matfield's experience could yet prove vital in the World Cup play-offs, but from a playing point of view, the Boks benefit tremendously from De Jager's physical approach.
A TMO should only alert referees to obvious incidents of foul play
The TMO for Saturday's match in Newcastle, George Ayoub, did his best to get referee Nigel Owens to sin-bin JP Pietersen for a dangerous tackle. When Ayoub drew Owens' attention to it, the Welshman said he had seen the tackle and didn't have a problem with it. Ayoub, however, insisted that his colleague watch the incident on the big screen, which Owens did, saying that the tackle had not been malicious. Ayoub then commented on the fact that the tackled player hadn't been brought safely to ground, which Owens ignored before just awarding a penalty. In a case like this, when a referee has clearly seen an incident and made a decision, there is no need for the TMO to get involved, unless that TMO is craving some time in the spotlight.
The Wallabies' scrum renaissance is complete
What a difference 11 months can make. Australia's scrum was smashed by England at Twickenham last November. However, it has improved markedly this year and on Saturday the Wallabies managed to turn the tables against the World Cup hosts. England conceded five penalties at scrum time, four by Joe Marler, who was penalised for scrumming in at an angle. The loosehead prop was eventually substituted in the 50th minute after exchanging words with referee Romain Poite, but that didn't prevent the Wallabies from winning another scrum penalty late in the game that really rubbed salt into English wounds. Former England No 8 Lawrence Dallaglio, writing in the Sunday Times, held nothing back when reflecting on his nation's scrum humiliation. 'If I had been any member of that English pack, I wouldn't have bothered getting showered and changed afterwards. I'd have walked straight out on to the A316, hailed the first cab and ordered him to take me to Heathrow. From there I wouldn't have bothered where the plane took me. Just as long as I was a long way from the pitiless inquest that must now follow.'
England should have selected Steffon Armitage
The Wallabies went into the match at Twickenham with two fetchers, No 8 David Pocock and openside flank Michael Hooper. England had none, with Armitage, their best fetcher, ineligible for the national team because he plays his club rugby for Toulon in France. Neither Chris Robshaw nor Tom Wood were able to make an impact at the breakdown, with 'Pooper' (as the Pocock-Hooper combo has become known) able to slow down and steal England ball. The Wallabies were able to force eight turnovers in total, three of which came from Pocock, whose low centre of gravity and squat frame make him the best breakdown bandit in the business.
Identify your first-choice flyhalf early and then back him
Bernard Foley produced his best performance in a Wallabies No 10 jersey at Twickenham, with a 28-point haul consisting of two tries, three conversions and four penalties. While Quade Cooper was given a start in the third Bledisloe Cup Test and in the pool match against Uruguay, Foley always knew that he was Michael Cheika's preferred choice at pivot. And on Saturday, he played with the confidence of someone who knows he has the backing of his coach. In contrast, England made a mess of their flyhalf selection. George Ford leap-frogged Owen Farrell in the pecking order during the Six Nations and started their first World Cup match against Fiji, only for Farrell to regain the No 10 jersey for the matches against Wales and Australia, with Ford coming off the bench. England coach Stuart Lancaster should have made it clear to both men going into the World Cup who his first-choice flyhalf was and, barring a dramatic loss of form, backed that player throughout the tournament.
Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images