South Africa’s raw power was the key factor which enabled them to win the World Cup final, England scrumhalf Andy Gomarsall said on Monday.
Gomarsall said England’s forwards had laid the platform for the tense quarterfinal and semi-final victories over Australia and France, but the Springboks had the edge at the breakdown and set-pieces in their 15-6 final win in Paris on October 20.
”In the end South Africa’s physicality was the difference,” Gomarsall told Reuters in Sydney where he is on holiday.
”They have a lot of big guys and they were able to put us under pressure in a way that Australia and France could not.”
Gomarsall said the key moment of the match came just after halftime when the video official ruled out what had appeared to be a try by England winger Mark Cueto.
”The disallowed try was a huge turning point but we are not using it as an excuse,” Gomarsall said. ”The momentum we had built up was lost and South Africa grew from that moment. It seemed like whatever we did for the rest of the game we just could not break their defence.”
Gomarsall said the England players felt huge disappointment after failing to retain the trophy they had won in Australia four years ago.
”There is a massive disappointment and sense of frustration that we didn’t win it but, on reflection, everyone was very proud of how we got to the final.” he said. ”We went over there to win it and we had an amazing journey.”
Gomarsall was a member of the squad in 2003 but did not play in the latter stages, including the final win over Australia and began this year’s tournament as third-choice scrumhalf.
”To achieve the victory in 2003 when we went into the tournament as favourites was unbelievable and the contrast with this year could not have been greater,” he said. ”We had been written off.”
England looked to have little chance of getting to the final following a 36-0 drubbing by South Africa in the pool stage but Gomarsall said that game prompted the frank discussions which underpinned the rest of the campaign.
”As a group of players we were unhappy with things and we had a clear-the-air meeting,” said Gomarsall, who came on as a replacement during the South Africa pool game and started England’s next five matches. ”A lot of things were said and we all came out of the meeting feeling very relieved. From that point on things improved.”
Gomarsall refused to blame coach Brian Ashton, who has been criticised by other members of the England squad for his lack of preparation and management skills.
”I love playing for Brian Ashton and he has to take full credit for what happened,” Gomarsall said. ”But the pressures of being England coach are huge and we as a group of players perhaps needed to help him more.”
Gomarsall (33) did not even have a club 12 months ago and said the last year had been a roller-coaster for him, mirroring his entire career in which he has played 33 Tests since making his debut in 1996.
”I am just happy to be here and looking forward to the season with my club Harlequins and continuing my international career,” he said.
”In my mind I’d like to think I might still be playing in the next World Cup. I’m just not sure about the body though.” – Reuters