Lawes reviews England’s Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to South Africa
The post-match brawl involving England and South Africa players at the Rugby World Cup kicked off when Springboks ace Willie le Roux ran over to join the celebrations, new footage has revealed. England led for the vast majority of Saturday’s last-four showdown and were firmly on course to book their place in the final until Handre Pollard kicked South Africa into a slender lead with just minutes remaining.
Owen Farrell kicked every single point for England as they dominated with the boot until a late try from RG Snyman finally gave the Springboks a lifeline. A last-gasp penalty from Pollard ended up sealing an incredible comeback victory before all hell broke loose on the Stade de France pitch after the final whistle.
The actions of Le Roux sparked a mass brawl involving both sets of players, with emotions running particularly high after the tense game. In new footage shared on social media, the 34-year-old was spotted running towards the England players before celebrating wildly in their faces, which appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
A number of players responded by squaring up to Le Roux, prompting individuals from both sides to get involved. Snyman quickly arrived on the scene to pull his team-mate away, but the match officials had already intervened by then in a bid to calm things down.
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Some players chose to avoid getting caught up in the brawl, with Springboks prop Ox Nche among those to steer clear of the post-match trouble. He was instead seen walking around the pitch and shaking hands with England’s players in a show of sportsmanship as the carnage unfolded around him.
The result saw England bow out of the Rugby World Cup in the semi-finals after defying expectations to reach the latter stages of the competition. Steve Borthwick’s men were unfancied going into the tournament but managed to win all four pool games and beat surprise package Fiji before their narrow defeat to the Springboks.
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Borthwick went on to insist after the final whistle that his players were worthy of high praise despite the result, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: “We thought we were going to win tonight and we came here believing we would win. The players deserve enormous credit for that.
“I think the tens of thousands of England fans watching here tonight and the millions watching at home will be very proud of their team. We have a very smart group of players that are learning very quickly because we have had to do it very quickly. The opposition have had four years and we have had four months. That is why the players deserve enormous credit.”
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