Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has criticised Brian Ashton, saying he did not have the managerial skills to be head coach at the World Cup. "I hope I'm not going to lose a friendship over what I say about Brian, a good coach who I believe was in the wrong role," Dallaglio says in his autobiography, serialised in the Sunday Times newspaper.
Unbeaten South Africa face defending champions England in a mouth-watering Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday, a re-match of the pool match the Springboks won with consummate ease. But both sides have been quick to play down the significance of that record 36-0 rout, achieved when England were without talismanic flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson.
South Africa may have reached the World Cup final, but they will have achieved nothing if they don't beat England in Saturday's showdown, said coach Jake White on Sunday following the Springboks' 37-13 victory over Argentina. The 43-year-old also insisted that the 36-0 walloping of England four weeks ago counted for nothing.
South Africa coach Jake White said that hatching a victory over Fiji in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal in Marseilles on Sunday was not "rocket science". Possession of the ball in contact against Fiji, an area where South Africa suffered in their narrow 30-25 pool victory over Tonga, was essential, said White.
It seems this isn't the best time to be an English rugby fan. For one thing, their team just seems to keep losing -- even off the pitch! This week the internet was awash with rugby shirts bearing the "036" logo after the English went down by that margin to South Africa last Sunday.
Brian Ashton may have entrusted the pivotal position of flyhalf to a man who has spent much of the past fortnight with his right foot in an ice bucket, but the England coach didn't look like a man who'd taken a gamble when he unveiled his team to play Samoa. Fit-again Jonny Wilkinson returns and starts a Test with Olly Barkley at inside centre for the first time.
South Africa and England have quite a Rugby World Cup history and their clash at the Stade de France on Friday promises to be yet another enthralling chapter. It was here eight years ago that the Springboks -- then the defending champions -- ended England hopes of landing the William Webb Ellis trophy and ridiculed Clive Woodward's statement of "judge me on the World Cup".
England head into Friday's crunch clash against South Africa with the key duty of goal-kicking set to be given to a man who has yet to score a Test match point in the union game. Andy Farrell was a prolific goal-kicker in rugby league but since his transfer from Wigan to Saracens in March 2005 has struck precious few kicks.
England captain Phil Vickery was suspended for two matches on Tuesday for tripping United States centre Paul Emerick. It is a ban that rules the tighthead prop out of the world champions' key Pool A clash against South Africa in Paris on Friday and the September 22 fixture with Samoa in Nantes.
World Cup heroes Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio have been left out the England team to play South Africa in their Pool A match at the Stade de France on Friday. Flyhalf Wilkinson missed the opening match against the United States with an ankle injury but Dallaglio played at number eight. Both men were in the winning World Cup final team four years ago.
New Zealand and Australia scored a combined total of 167 points and 24 tries as the southern hemisphere giants ruthlessly exposed the huge gap in international rugby at the World Cup on Saturday. The All Blacks swept aside Italy, who had beaten both Wales and Scotland in the Six Nations this year, 76-14 while Australia crushed Japan 91-3.
Champions England produced a sluggish, uninspired and deeply flawed performance on Sunday to beat the United States 28-10 in their opening World Cup Pool A match. England failed to even gain the bonus point awarded for four tries, falling one short after leading 21-3 at halftime.
Coach Brian Ashton expressed his disappointment with Saturday's ragged display by world champions England but insisted it would have no bearing on next Friday's key clash with South Africa. England struggled to a 28-10 victory over a committed United States side in the opening game of Pool A.