There should be no rejection of England's defeat and achievement on Saturday – only lessons learned and a profound recognition of South Africa's superiority on the day. Bokke was quite outstanding.
This has been an outstanding campaign in England and they really reached new heights against New Zealand last week, but sport is a big leveler. At the very elite level, if you get one aspect of your game wrong for a period of time, you're gone. There is no going back and that is what happened on Saturday.
England were completely out-scrummaged through the first half and during periods of the second half. Not only were they marched back, but they conceded five scrum penalties. You simply cannot win a Test Rugby game if your set piece is dominated to such an extent, especially since the line-out also creaked poorly.
There should be no rejection of England's defeat and performance on Saturday
South Africa was quite outstanding in Yokohama and far superior to England than the day
England got the basics wrong and the frustration is that basics have been England's strong point this season. And of course, this has a knock on effect. You start throwing loose, under pressure, passes, or you throw the ball at restart just when you need to soothe everything and be ruthlessly efficient.
Did England's arrival late affect them and contribute to their nervous start? No, I was standing down there on the touchline, and their heating was excellent, calm and in control. I was just as surprised as anyone that England was so flawed in the first half. The nerves suddenly kicked in.
Kyle Sinckler Damage? Yes, it was a blow because he has been great for England, and seeing a key man knocked out too cold so early and being helped by is a little disconcerting. What it also meant is that Dan Cole, who has been conditioned to come for half an hour toward the end of his career, suddenly looked at a 77-minute shift. When was the last time he was basically required to walk full distance?
It was not ideal, but don't forget that Bokke had two key forward games that also helped out in the first half. It's test rugby.
Could England have chosen a different way considering that Bokke is likely to always target the scrum. That, I think, would be a case of talk afterwards. Remember what the incredible job England had done on New Zealand. I don't remember any critics raising objections when the English team was announced.
England were completely out-scrummaged during the first half and during periods of the second
Choices are always about balance. George Kruis may be more present at scrum time than Courtney Lawes, ditto Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola, but like Lawes and Vunipola can give you so much in these opening exchanges when you're looking to set the pace of the game. This time it didn't work, most times it will.
The bigger issue that England will have to sit down and consider once the dust is settled is the strength and experience of the freight forwarders on the bench. South Africa's & # 39; bombing & # 39; – the six forwards they've used from the bench in all tournaments – are for a man magnificent players and essentially test starters. Some people would have Marx and Mostert in their current world XV!
The South African package loses nothing at all when they come on, in fact they often go unnoticed. England just couldn't fight it, and that's something they have to address.
I also wrote in my previews that this South African team knew the English guys better than almost any other team in the world. Many of their key players are key players for their Premier League team, while others in T14 play the best English clubs in the European Cup. They knew England's strengths and weaknesses and from the start they decided they could take on and beat England ahead in the 80 minutes.
Bokke knew exactly how to take the pace out of the game, putting the squeeze on England, but then last quarter they demonstrated their full reach with two brilliantly taken attempts wide, the first attempts they ever scored in their three World Cup finals.
I'm so glad the game won, they let go of the handbrake and demonstrated their full scope. Let's put our caps off here for an absolutely brilliant and comprehensive team performance. They did with England what England did with New Zealand a week ago.
England got the fundamentals wrong, and then of course it has an effect on other aspects
The dye was cast pretty early. England were on the back foot and struggled a little with reassurance, and their one sustained period of pressure was midway through the first half as they mounted the 25-stage attack close to the Box line.
South Africa defended superbly, knowing when to give up the penalty, and it felt like a massive moment when England failed to cross the line after 25 stages just before halftime. An attempt at that would have been a nerve-wracking and perhaps rattled the Boxers a bit, but it did not come and very soon normal service resumed.
That, if we're being honest, was the only moment of the game, it was a mighty uphill after that, and England simply couldn't get a head of steam going.
No single player found that moment of inspiration that could kick-start a team effort, and once again you wonder at the well-established World Cup tradition for teams that fail to back up a unique semifinal victory seven days later. France in 1987 and 1999, New Zealand in 1995, Australia in 2003 and now England in 2019. This is not unknown territory
I am reminded of the old Tour de France saying with the best cyclists who have 100 units or energy or adrenaline to spend the entire race and therefore you have to measure your efforts very carefully. Use up too much too soon, and maybe you may not have enough left for when you really need it at the end. England really dug deep into their reserves against the All Blacks last week and maybe that wasn't quite enough at the end.
I'm so glad that with the game won, they let go of the handbrake and demonstrated their true class
South Africa, on the other hand, produced by far the best performance of the tournament when it counted the most, and it was impossible in the ITV studio not to enjoy and share the joy of Bryan Habana as he drove down to the touchline to embrace his compatriots.
You also couldn't help but be touched by the modesty of their captain Siya Kilosi and also the infectious good humor of Schalk Brits, whose draw in the squad at the age of 38 was a master stroke by coach Rassie Erasmus.
The Brits would only ever be the third pick though he played, but his live-wire presence in the squad was massive, just as it was when he arrived at the Saracens all those years ago. He is a life amplifier and galvanizer.
In the end, South Africa's victory was a triumph and victory that we could all enjoy, even disappointed English fans, and it was a fitting end to a very special tournament that overcame many difficulties in delivering on all fronts – physically and emotionally. It was a privilege to be present in Japan to witness much of it firsthand.