5 standout rugby games between England and South Africa

5 standout rugby games between England and South Africa

Published Nov. 1, 2019 2:03 a.m. ET

TOKYO (AP) — England and South Africa will play each other for the 43rd time when they meet in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama on Saturday.

The Springboks have 25 wins and 15 losses, with one of the two draws being a 3-3 result in their first meeting in London in 1906.

Here are five standout games in their 113-year international rivalry:

SOUTH AFRICA 44, ENGLAND 21 (World Cup quarterfinal, October 1999)


Springboks flyhalf Jannie de Beer produced a career performance, succeeding with all 12 of his kicks to finish with 34 points. Amazingly, five of those were dropped goals — a world record — with four taken from at least 40 meters out.

De Beer's trusty right boot also set up one of South Africa's two tries as a steepling up-and-under bounced kindly into the grasp of winger Pieter Roussow, who flopped over the line.

The Boks advanced to the semifinals, where they lost to Australia.

ENGLAND 53, SOUTH AFRICA 3 (Autumn international, November 2002)

England recording its biggest win over South Africa, and completing a first-ever sweep of autumn victories over the southern hemisphere giants, wasn't the story of this match at Twickenham. Instead, it was the brutal tactics of the Springboks that grabbed the headlines.

"There were a lot of cheap shots," England coach Clive Woodward said, and that was putting it mildly.

The Boks played nearly an hour with 14 men after the red card to lock Jannes Labuschagne, who delivered a late shoulder charge on Jonny Wilkinson. Phil Christophers was coat-hangered, leading to a penalty try, and South Africa captain Corne Krige inadvertently punched one of his own players, having aimed at an Englishman.

"I knew that we were going to lose," Krige wrote in his autobiography years later, "but I made up my mind to take a few people down with me."

SOUTH AFRICA 36, ENGLAND 0 (World Cup pool stage, September 2007)

South Africa inflicted England's heaviest loss at a World Cup in the second match of the English title defense, sparking a near-mutiny in the defending champion's squad.

The Springboks scored three tries, through J.P. Pietersen (2) and Juan Smith, and fullback Percy Montgomery kicked 18 points. There was a supreme display by scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, too.

Humbled and low on confidence, England somehow managed to regroup and reach the final, where the team would lose to ... South Africa.

SOUTH AFRICA 15, ENGLAND 6 (World Cup final, October 2007)

A tryless final, though it was a try that wasn't awarded that haunted England in this particular game.

With England trailing 9-3 soon after halftime, Mark Cueto went over in the left corner but, after a lengthy review by the Television Match Official, it was adjudged that the winger's foot had drifted into touch before he grounded the ball

"Everyone takes the mick out of me when I say I still think it was a try," Cueto said this week, "but I genuinely do."

South Africa adopted a one-dimensional, kick-orientated approach to subdue England, with all its points coming from penalties — four from Percy Montgomery and another from Francois Steyn.

It was South Africa's second and most recent World Cup title, after 1995.

SOUTH AFRICA 42, ENGLAND 39 (Summer Tour, June 2018)

This was the highest-scoring game involving these teams and came at a time when England coach Eddie Jones was starting to come under some pressure for the first time.

England's fourth straight loss didn't look like arriving, after the tourists raced into a 24-3 lead in Johannesburg.

South Africa replied with five tries — four before halftime, which the teams reached with the Springboks leading 29-27.

Late tries by Maro Itoje and Jonny May concluded a breathless match but only proved to be a consolation for England, with Rassie Erasmus securing his first win as South Africa coach.