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Rugby World Cup

Springboks End Japanese Dream in Quarter-Finals

South Africa will face Wales in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals following a win over hosts Japan



(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

South Africa have reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in Japan with a 26-3 victory over the hosts this afternoon. 

A brace of tries from Makazole Mapimpi as well as a five-pointer from Faf de Klerk saw the Springboks over the line against a determined Japanese side that began to tire as the game went on. 

The Springboks made the perfect start as winger Mapimpi took the ball from de Klerk off a scrum and went in for a try in the corner despite being under pressure from Yu Tamura. They couldn’t add the extras but it was 5-0 inside the fourth minute. 

However, as the clock edged toward the tenth minute the Boks were reduced to 14-men as Tendai Mtawarira was sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle, putting a sour note on his 100th appearance. 

Just before Mtawarira returned to the pitch Tamura cut the deficit as he knocked over a penalty to make it 5-3 with a quarter of the game gone. 

Japan continued to show the incredible handling work that has impressed many throughout the tournament to date and continued to put the Springboks under pressure as they seemed to grow in confidence as the game went on. 

Their dominance was showing in the statistics as they had an amazing 81% possession by come the half hour mark. However, despite having the majority of the ball for the remainder of the half they couldn’t add to the scoreboard as they went in at 5-3 to the Springboks come the half-time whistle.

South Africa began the second-half well and registered their first points of the half four minutes in through the boot of Handre Pollard, who sent over a brilliant long-range penalty to make it 8-3. 

Pollard pushed the Boks further in front four minutes later as he knocked over another penalty. 

Over the next 15 minutes South Africa camped in the opposition half and won a couple of penalties with Pollard sending one wide but smacking the second through the posts to give his side a 14-3 lead. 

With just under 15 minutes remaining the Springboks produced a powerful maul, marching almost 30 metres, into the Japanese 22 before replacement hooker Malcolm Marx broke away before passing to de Klerk who dived over for the try. Pollard kicked the simple conversion push them 21-3 in front. 

Four minutes on and they were in for try number three as Pollard broke through the Japanese defence before passing to Willie le Roux, who in turn sent it to Mapimpi, who raced into the left corner to dive over for the five-points. Pollard couldn’t add the extra two but it was 26-3 as Japan began to tire. 

The two teams traded blows over the last ten minutes as the both went in search of tries but neither could find a way through as it ended 26-3 in the Boks favour.

The Springboks will now prepare for a meeting with Wales next Sunday in the final four of the competition as they look to make it to another World Cup final. While for Japan their tournament comes to an end, but they have earned many admirers throughout with their incredible determination and playing style.

South Africa Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Willie le Roux (6), Cheslin Kolbe (7), Lukanyo Am (7), Damian de Allende (6), Makazole Mapimpi (8), Handre Pollard (8), Faf de Klerk (9), Duane Vermeulen (7), Pieter-Steph du Toit (7), Siya Kolisi (6), Lood de Jager (7), Eben Etzebeth (7), Frans Malherbe (6), Bongi Mbonambi (6), Tendai Mtawarira (5)

Replacements (7)


Gatland Explains England RWC Final Comments

Warren Gatland has come out to explain his comments around England’s Rugby World Cup final as well as looking back on one vital mistake he made in his career



(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has given his reason for predicting England’s fall in the Rugby World Cup final while talking to Off the Ball.

The coaching great, who stepped aside from his 12-year stint with Wales following the conclusion of their World Cup campaign was promoting his new book ‘Pride and Passion’ and explained how the emotional toll of England’s semi-final win over New Zealand was hard to follow up. 

“At the very elite level of sport, it is the emotion that counts. And sometimes when you have a great performance and you are emotionally charged right on the edge, it is difficult to repeat that,” he said. 

It proved to be the case for England as they failed to find another gear in the final, being dominated by South Africa who ran out 32-12 winners. He drew on past experiences in his career to back up his point, including a discussion about the 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour.

“When I look back at my time coaching, there are two examples that really strike out for me. One was in London coaching Wasps, and we played Leicester in the last round. Martin Johnson’s last game and Neil Back’s last game at Welford Road. I completely underestimated the emotion of that. They beat us 45-24 or something like that. Then in the final, I didn’t think they could bring the same level of emotion so we put 40-points on them in the final. It was the same scenario with Australia in the second test in 2013. James Horwill, tears running down his eyes, the effort and energy they put into that, I didn’t think they could bring the same the following week,” he added. 

That Lions tour threw up some major complications for Gatland including a decision to drop Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll for the third test, which caused huge backlash and the Kiwi regrets how he went about the decision that week. 

“The biggest mistake we made was on the Sunday after the second test we put Brian up for media. That was a huge mistake because everyone just assumed with Sam Warburton getting injured that Brian was going to play and going to be captain the following week. So we made the decision and I said to the other coaches ‘there could be a big falling out over this’. I didn’t realise quite the extent,” he finished. 

Gatland’s experience is easy to see and he will take charge of yet another Lions tour in 2021 as he leads his charges to South Africa as he completes the full cycle of tours having also managed them to a series draw with New Zealand in 2017. In the meantime Gatland has taken up a role with Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs as he returns to his homeland looking to add further success to his CV.

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Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over

Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph



(Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier. 

However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland. 

“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said. 

The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes. 

Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa. 

At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.

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Scots End Row with World Rugby

Scotland and World Rugby have been unhappy with one another for the guts of a month, but they have finally sorted their differences out



(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed this morning that the Scottish Rugby Union has accepted the punishment received for comments made during the Rugby World Cup in Japan last month.

The punishment of a £70,000 fine and a meaningful apology was handed to the union following comments made by their chief Mark Dodson, who suggested sueing World Rugby as his team’s clash with Japan came under threat by Typhoon Hagibis. 

In what was a must-win game for the Scots to progress to the knock-out stages, he also criticised the running of the competition by the hosts. Eventually the match was played and Scotland lost 28-21, leaving them heading home, but World Rugby were not happy. 

Having announced the punishment last week, World Rugby have now released a statement to confirm that Scotland have accepted the decision. 

“World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter. The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party,” the statement read. 

It puts and end to a dragged out argument between the organisations which will be a relief to fans. The fine will be donated to the Childfund Pass it Back programme, which is continuing to help the areas affected by the typhoon last month. 

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