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'The Beast' leads Springboks' total destruction of England's scrum

The Springboks pack was ruthless in going after the English set-piece in the World Cup final.

 RUGBY CAN BE a simple game sometimes.

No scrum, no win. That’s how the French put it and after watching the World Cup final, it’s difficult to disagree.

South Africa’s forwards took England’s pack to the cleaners at scrum time in Yokohama, winning five penalties in total and earning their side incredible amounts of momentum with their total destruction of the English set-piece. 

tendai-mtawarira-celebrates-with-his-children Tendai Mtawarira with his children after the Boks claimed the World Cup. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Eddie Jones’ men did earn one scrum penalty of their own but it was otherwise one-way traffic of the most brutal kind in the Boks’ remarkable 32-12 win.

Losing starting tighthead Kyle Sinckler to an unfortunate head injury in just the third minute of the final was deeply damaging for England, as Dan Cole was sent on in his stead and almost immediately conceded a scrum penalty.

In the end, Cole ended up with four penalty concessions as Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira and then Steven Kitshoff got plenty of change from him on the Boks’ loosehead side.

Of course, scrums are pack efforts and the credit will go to the South African collective up front, while England’s entire forward pack will own their catastrophic failures.

“Rugby is built around the set-piece and our scrum went well tonight,” said 34-year-old Mtawarira after rolling back the years in a hugely impactful 44-minute showing, with the equally impactful Steven Kitshoff coming on for him.

“It’s something we’ve put a lot of focus on in the last couple of months and as a team, we’ve made a lot of improvements.

“It was good to get a few good penalties there and get the scoreboard ticking, and we got a lot of energy from that.

“We wanted to get ascendancy from the outset and after winning that first penalty we knew we had to keep working hard. The English have a great pack so they didn’t make it easy for us, but we managed to get the ascendancy we wanted.”

dan-cole-in-a-rolling-maul It was a tough night for Dan Cole and the England pack. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

England replacement loosehead Joe Marler indicated some frustrations about referee Jérôme Garcès’ decision-making but he stressed that the better pack had come out on top.

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“It’s a tough ask when the pictures have already been painted and Jérôme decided that he was going to referee a scrum this week, which is good to know, bless his heart,” said Marler.

“And it is very hard to change that perception. South Africa fully deserved to win and I hope they have a great night.

“It’s quite difficult to hide a significant amount of money in your shorts and socks to maybe bung him and say, ‘Bonjour, ça va?’

“It is tough and you would like to think every scrum is refereed independently, but that’s not the reality. Fair play to the South Africa pack, they did a great job.”

Marler felt the early loss of Sinckler was telling.

“I was really gutted for him, he has had an unbelievable tournament. He has really come of age here and what he can do in the scrum now as well as the X-factor stuff he can do around the park, I would put him up there as one of the best tightheads in the world.

“So it’s disappointing it ended that way for him. It was a blow for us early on to see it as he has been in such good form. I am gutted for him, but he can be proud of what he has done in the tournament and will be unbelievable going forward.”

japan-rugby-wcup-final The Boks scrum was dominant. Source: Mark Baker

Mtawarira wasn’t in agreement and said England losing Sinckler “didn’t really make a difference” as they had “a quality tighthead” in Cole to replace him.

He and the rest of this Boks pack can take huge pride in the role they played in this World Cup final victory.

The biggest game in the sport has surely never seen scrum dominance like it.

“I’ve always wanted to go out there and give my utmost best for the team,” said Mtawarira.

“That’s what I was thinking before the game. I wanted to scrum the best I’ve ever scrummed and give my team the energy and inspire the guys around me.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from International Stadium Yokohama

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