You could tell there was a surprise coming, even pre match. Freddie Steward was in tears during the anthem and there was real emotion, especially from Maro Itoje who looked like he meant business and led from the front, a critical change. By contrast, Sia Kolisi and his team seemed subdued. From the whistle, the Boks were shaken by a whole series of little moments and they could not get a foothold. It happens to the best, and England held them in a vice of confusion and uncertainty -let us pay tribute to their performance which won the hearts of a nation who had no real expectation. I also hope that supporters will find some shared feelings with Owen Farrell who was close to tears in the post match interview and at last let down the guard which has alienated him at times. To be clear he had an outstanding game – strictly with the boot but that was the plan.
When two becomes one springs to mind at this stage of the Rugby World Cup 2023. I remember being told that the quarter finals of the Heineken Champions Cup were in some ways the highlight because of the titanic struggles which used to occur. This has most likely happened here, although all for the wrong reasons. The lopsided draw made it look as if we were witnessing two different competitions which have now merged into one.