As an Irishman, I rejoice when we beat England at rugby. But tonight, I took absolutely no pleasure in seeing our neighbours suffering the first whitewash of this World Cup. It was painful to watch. England is a proud rugby nation and they did not deserve this humiliation.
I feel really sorry for Jason Robinson, who busted a gut out there tonight. For long periods in this match, he seemed to be the only Englishman playing rugby. That he should pull a hamstring when England looked like making a promising move must have been heartbreaking. As he was being helped off the pitch, my wife and I stood up and applauded him.
But South Africa were in control from the start. England didn’t even contest the lineout. South Africa were disciplined in their own half, so the opportunity to capitalise from penalties was limited. There was no out-half wearing white, so drop goals were never an option. England had no maul and no cutting edge in the backs.
The World Cup needs strong northern hemisphere teams as counterweight to the crash-bang-wallop merchants of the southern hemisphere. A weak England is not good news for European rugby. Some Irish fans will laugh at England’s misfortune tonight.
I am not one of them.