Springboks will not underestimate England in semi — Erasmus

The Boks’ big boss has pointed to the stats over the competition so far, which indicates that it should be a tight encounter between two in-form sides.

SA Rugby director Rassie Erasmus says the Springboks will not be underestimating England as they prepare for a massive Rugby World Cup semifinal clash at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night.

It is a repeat of the 2019 final, with the Boks cruising to an impressive 32-12 win on that occasion, although back then England was considered a more formidable side with them having been in good form and beaten the All Blacks in the semis.

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However this time round the Boks will be heavy favourites as both teams have been in contrasting form in recent times, as evidenced by the Boks topping the World Rugby rankings while England sit fifth.

England has struggled of late and their progress to the semis is arguably down to them playing on a much weaker side of the draw, with their decent pool wins over Argentina and Japan their best results.

They struggled to a one point win over tier two Samoa at the end of the pool phase, while they were pushed again by a tier two nation in their quarterfinal, eventually clinching a 30-24 win over Fiji.

Tougher opposition

The Boks, who have faced much tougher opposition over the competition so far, should be better prepared and should fancy themselves, although Erasmus claims that the team is not thinking that way.

“If we think England is bad because people from outside say that they are not doing well… our reality is the truth, not the reality that people create outside our camp,” explained Erasmus. 

“We know from the (English) Premiership, a lot of our players play against them and we know (Steve) Borthwick is an excellent coach which he showed at Leicester and as a captain and a player for England.”

Tight encounter

Erasmus also pointed to the stats over the competition so far indicating that it should be a tight encounter between two in form sides.

“It will be a very tough test against a team that hasn’t lost a game and more or less conceded the same amount of tries and racked up the same amount of points (as the Boks),” said Erasmus.

“If you look at England, they scored 19 tries and got 180 points and we scored 26 tries and also have 180 points.

“Then if you look at the points conceded side, they’ve conceded six tries, we’ve conceded seven and they’ve conceded 63 points and we’re 62. So, you can know how close this game (will be), if you just look at stats and I know stats don’t always tell the whole picture.”

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