Springboks stick to Erasmus’ game plan to down England

South Africa’s Rugby team celebrates with the Webb Ellis trophy after winning the World Cup Final in Yokohama on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2019

Springboks stick to Erasmus’ game plan to down England

  • Raucous spectacle opens to the boom of Japanese drums and flames shooting into the evening sky

TOKOHAMA, Japan: South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus might have been criticized for his team’s “boring” game plan going into the Rugby World Cup final, but his side delivered perfectly with a dominant 32-12 victory over England on Saturday.

In victory, the Springboks demonstrated a perfect mix of brutal pragmatism and electric finishing based around an all-important dominant set piece and the kicking machines that are Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard.

A kickfest had been predicted for the final and — two blistering second-half tries from Bok wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe aside — so it proved as Pollard and Owen Farrell traded penalties early on.

But there was no lack of bite in a hard-hitting contest of gladitorial standards that left the players bloodied and bruised in a shocking advert for the attritional quality of Test match rugby.

Even after six weeks of competition, there was no holding back from the two teams that have prided themselves on their physically confrontrational styles of play.

England prop Kyle Sinckler went off after just three minutes, left prone after a hitting his head in a tackle.

There was a double blow in the 22nd minute for the Boks when lock Lood De Jager departed with a shoulder injury and hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi was replaced as he underwent a Head Injury Assement following a tackle on Courtney Lawes.

A key point came halfway through the first half when wave after wave of brutal English attack was repelled, the Herculean Boks left panting on their line through exertion.

England lock Maro Itoje then flattened Vermeulen and Damian de Allende, the sound of the two sickening impacts clearly audible from the stands with renditions of “Swing Low” interrupted by gasps as the crowd visibly squirmed in their seats.

The raucous spectacle, opened by loud Japanese drumming and flames shooting into the evening sky, was how one might imagine a battle in a Roman ampitheater.

Flamethrowers erupted every time a penalty went over, fans baying with delight when an Itoje or Vermeulen threw themselves, seemingly with reckless abandon, into another tackle or drive forward.

The on-field attrition also came in the set-piece, as the Boks turned the screw at scrum-time, Sinckler’s replacement Dan Cole struggling badly to cope with veteran Tendai Mtawarira.

The second-half started just as the first ended, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit — one of the nominees for World Player of the Year — put in two thumping tackles in quick succession on George Ford.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, named as the country’s first black skipper by Erasmus last year, was omnipresent in a back-row in which Vermeulen also outshone England’s vaunted “kamikaze kids” pairing of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

De Klerk and Pollard kept England pinned back and the pressure continued to mount.

And after all the grind, it was fitting that two of the most exciting players at the World Cup, Bok wingers Makazole and Kolbe, scored a try apiece, justifying the team’s total belief in and execution of the no-nonsense gameplan devised by Erasmus.


Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

  • Prince Faisal said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup winner Mosaad Al-Dossary was the kind of role model young players should be looking to emulate, according to the Kingdom’s esports gaming chief.

President of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronics and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, told Arab News he was “proud” of Al-Dossary for his esports achievements and for showing “his class as a human being.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum, in Riyadh, the prince said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

Equating esports to traditional sports, he stressed it was important that young people moderated their time playing video competitions. 

“Moderation in everything,” he quoted his father as telling him.

“Everything has its positives, within reason. I don’t expect our professional (esports) players to be playing for 18 hours a day. What we advocate is having good mental health, social health as well as good physical health.”

Prince Faisal said it was important that youth chose their heroes carefully, and Al-Dossary was an example of the perfect role model. 

“I’m proud of him for all of his many accomplishments in gaming, but I’m prouder of who he is as a person.”

He noted that during Al-Dossary’s winning participation in the Manchester FUT Champions Cup, in the UK, one of the tournament’s young competitors had fallen ill and was taken to hospital. Al-Dossary had ducked out of victory celebrations to go and visit his sick opponent, taking with him the green scarf awarded to world cup qualifiers which he left on the young man’s bedside table as a gift.

“I’m prouder of him for doing that, brightening up his opponent’s day, than I am of him winning the world cup,” the prince said. 

“He showed his class as a human being, not as an esports player. And that’s what we expect of all of our athletes and all of our young kids across all industries and sports.

“That’s the caliber of person that we have in Saudi, in our communities and that’s what I want to showcase to the world.”

Prince Faisal admitted that online harassment could be a problem, but said it was a global issue that could only be solved through education.

“There are errors, and esports and gaming is a new era, and it’s a new era of accessibility. Along with that comes a learning curve and an education curve,”he added.