Fourteen-man South Africa produced a commanding performance at Twickenham to end the Castle Lager Outgoing tour on a high note with a 27-13 (halftime 14-3) victory over an outclassed England on Saturday.
Replacement prop Thomas du Toit was sent off for a high tackle with 20 minutes remaining to suggest that the game might be back in the melting pot. Although the Boks led 27-6 at that point, England had come back from a 19-point deficit to draw with the All Blacks seven days earlier.
But there was to be no ‘miracle’ for the home team this time; no last-minute disappointment as was suffered here a year ago or by a 14-man Boks in Marseille three weeks ago. It was a massive statement of depth and intent as a mix-and-match combination showed resolve and great composure to close out the game against an ultimately confounded home team.
A Springbok team shorn of backline regulars Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Cheslin Kolbe as well as pack stalwarts Lood de Jager and Pieter-Steph du Toit – and featuring their third-choice goal kicker in Faf de Klerk – ultimately commanded Twickenham after beginning cautiously but growing into the game with increasing confidence.
They scored two tries through the outstanding wing Kurt-Lee Arendse – scoring in a fifth successive test – and lock Eben Etzebeth to one from Henry Slade, while flyhalf Damian Willemse dropped two goals with Faf de Klerk kicking a conversion and three penalties.
South Africa’s Rugby World Cup dominance of the English pack resurfaced as scrum and maul were dominant with free-kick and penalties arriving as early as the first two scrums. De Klerk was wide with his first shot at goal from the penalty and England took the lead in the 11th minute when centre Owen Farrell was successful with his second kick at goal. Unbelievably his first attempt had gone wide from straight in front.
A neck tackle on No 8 Evan Roos presented De Klerk with an easier opportunity to level the scores mid0way through the half before Farrell – to general astonishment – missed another straightforward opportunity a couple of minutes later.
But that was to be England’s last sniff of first-half points as the Springboks dominated the second quarter.
A succession of lineout drives put the England pack on a warning and one from one such drive Siya Kolisi was held up over the line (Roos did manage to ground half a second after the whistle had gone).
England’s defence was resolute however and it rook a cool 30-metre drop goal from Willemse – his first for the Springboks – to edge his team into the lead for the first time on the half hour.
Three minutes later the game burst to life.
England had kicked frequently and from one such bomb on to Willemse just inside his own 22 the Bok backs cut England to pieces. The Bok flyhalf evaded the chasing Freddie Steward, fed the ever-alert Willie le Roux on his inside who in turn passed to Arendse on the right-hand touchline 40 metres out. The flying wing had Marcus Smith in front of him, but an inside-outside swerve saw him speed past the flat-footed defender without being touched.
Straight from the restart South Africa again broke from deep – dummying the box kick and breaking away through Willemse and Arendse – and although it didn’t lead to points the half ended on top with De Klerk kicking his second penalty to give his team an 11-point lead (14-3).
Willemse’s comfort in the No 10 jersey was writ large when he landed a second drop two minutes into the new half with cool assurance.
Farrell cancelled it out with his second successful penalty from in front after De Klerk strayed offside, but it was a rare moment of success for England as they started clearing their bench early to try and cancel out the Boks’ firepower up front.
It di not work initially as the building pressure from a succession of lineout drives led to a yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck by loosefoward Tom Curry. Two minutes later the numerical advantage was rewarded for the Boks. England were forced onto their goal-line and the outstanding Eben Etzebeth scored under the cross bar from a metre out.
De Klerk converted and then added a fabulous penalty from 50 metres to give the Springboks a three-score lead at 27-6. But the Springboks’ fortunes were about to change.
The Bomb Squad’s impact had been apparent with the new front row of Malcom Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Toit extracting more scrum penalties from the English front row.
But Du Toit’s stay was short-lived as he was ed carded with 20 minutes to go for entering a tackle in an upright position and driving with his head and shoulder into England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.
That set up a tense final 20 minutes but the resolute, scrambling Bok defence was not to suffer the same fate as the All Blacks’ a week before at Twickenham.
Centre Henry Slade managed to cross in the period, but it was the only sighting the tryline England could manufacture as they trudged from the field, baffled, and beaten.
England 13 (3) – Try: Hery Slade. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalty goals: Farrell (2).
Springboks 27 (14) – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Eben Etzebeth. Conversion: Faf De Klerk. Penalty goals: De Klerk (3). Drop goals: Damian Willemse (2).
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
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Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.