Brave England defeated by South Africa in the World Cup Final

England were defeated by South Africa in the World Cup Final, though the whole country should be immensely proud of what they achieved. After winning the World Cup in 2003, England have gone through a period of transition, with older players retiring and the new generation of talent for the future coming through, so they haven't played good rugby for the last couple of years despite being World Champions. So they were written off before this World Cup as no-hopers to retain their title. And, not suprisingly, they started of badly, with an unconvincing 28-10 win over the United States in the opening game to a 36-0 thrashing after that by South Africa. But that defeat seemed to have woken England up and they started playing good rugby again, defeating great teams such as Australia (in the Quarter Finals) and France (in the Semi Finals) before meeting South Africa again in the Final.

But this time, the Springboks came up against a resurgent England and it was no 36-0 this time. South Africa had to make do with a narrow victory this time and, despite scoring tries freely in this tournament, couldn't score any against England in the Final, with the supposedly dangerous Bryan Habana - the World Cup's leading try scorer - no threat at all to England. South Africa have now appeared in two World Cup Finals and, despite winning them both, have not scored any tries in either of them. England have scored tries in their three World Cup Final appearances and should have scored one against South Africa when Mark Cueto, who has a good record of scoring tries against the South Africans, touched down but it was controversially ruled out by the Australian (unsurprisingly) video referee.

The England fans - including Princes William and Harry - were astounded at the decision which, if it was given, would have put England into the lead.

But South Africa - a team which comprises of mostly white players - are the World Champions for the second time. They won the World Cup back in 1995, when the tournament was held in South Africa and the team possessed the "Mandela factor" and the England boys should be proud of reaching the final against the odds

England's band of heroes are denied final glory by South Africa

21st October 2007
Daily Mail

Rugby World Cup Final
England 6-15 South Africa

Nobody could fault their effort, nobody could fault their bravery. But late last night in a northern suburb of Paris, England's unlikely World Cup dream finally died.

South Africa did what others had failed to do in this extraordinary tournament and defeated the team who dubbed themselves the Grumpy Old Men.

Not given: Mark Cueto's touchdown was controversially ruled out by the video referee

In touch? Cueto's touchdown was not given by the ref

They were of limited flair but unbreakable spirit, and ran South Africa so very close. Finally, perhaps age caught up with them and England's chariot could go no further.

But even in defeat, a team humiliated 36-0 by the same Springbok opposition just 36 days earlier can hold their heads high and stick out their chests. They went much further than anyone had dared to believe, and with so many decisions and events going against them England will feel, with some justification, hard done by.

As World Cup-winning captain of 2003, Martin Johnson, said: 'We have had a poor couple of years and have done something amazing to get here. They are disappointed and should be, because they had a chance. But they've done something very special here, too.'

A Mark Cueto 'try' in the 43rd minute was ruled out by the television match official. Phil Vickery, Jason Robinson and Mike Catt all failed to last the distance, and the penalty that sent the Springboks two scores clear was given for the most questionable of offences.

Royal support: Princes Harry and William can't hide their emotions as England give up their World Cup crown

Deflated: Jonny Wilkinson's six points were not enough the Springboks

There is no doubt England could have won, but it is with such fine margins that World Cups are won and lost. They began last night, indeed, the whole tournament, as rank outsiders.

Regardless of their shock wins over Australia and France in the quarter and semi-finals, the facts were clear; four defeats in their past four games by the Springboks, a scoreline of 149-32 in the last three, a World Cup try count of 33 to 12, and that 36-0 hammering in the pool game.

Even to reach the final, giving themselves the chance to become the first nation to retain the world championship, represented one of the great sporting comebacks of all time. England had been read the last rites after their previous meeting with South Africa, and rightly so.

Three stars: Percy Montgomery scored South Africa's nine points in the first half

But,after playing what they described as 'four cup finals' just to get to the Stade de France last night, no one in the squad, a rag-tag collection of players out of retirement,some who recovered from career-threatening injuries or simply the wrong side of 30,was satisfied with that.

They all knew they had not done the title of world champions justice since 2003 but, in the cold chill of an autumn night in Paris, they had the chance to put things right.

Springbok glory: South African players hold their arms aloft as vanquished England trudge off

They started well enough, smashing the Boks in the first scrum and enjoying the early possession, but it was South Africa who took the lead when Mathew Tait slipped in front of his own posts and then failed to release, presenting Percy Montgomery with a simple seventh-minute penalty.

Four minutes later England levelled after Bryan Habana was penalised for not rolling away and Jonny Wilkinson struck from the corner. But Montgomery's second successful penalty, after Lewis Moody tripped Butch James, put the Springboks back in front.

At this stage five weeks previously,the game was already lost but that was an England side without the suspended captain, Vickery,and more crucially,the injured Wilkinson.

Dejection: Mark Cueto throws his hands on his head after England fail to break down South Africa's defence

Last night was a different story. Despite some early lineout failures, England were edging the set-pieces and creating territorial advantage. It was only unforced errors that had given the Springboks the lead but they knew, unlike last time, they were in a game of rugby.

Crying game: an England fan in tears after the final defeat

It seemed to jerk South Africa into a big closing 10 minutes of the first half.

Captain John Smit fell centimetres short of bulldozing over after a scintillating break by the precocious centre Francois Steyn and, after a period of sustained pressure encamped on the English line, Montgomery converted a penalty on the half-time whistle to stretch their lead to 9-3.

England emerged from their dressing room minus their captain. Vickery had been twice attended to by the doctors before the break, so it was little surprise to see Matt Stevens off the bench. Within three minutes high drama hit the World Cup final.

A stunning 45- metre break from the magnificent Tait beat three South African defenders before he was brought down two metres from the line. Quick English ball, however, saw Wilkinson flick on to Cueto, who appeared to have dived over in the corner for a try.

Bowing out: Jason Robinson can't watch on the sidelines as the game slips away from England

Irish referee Alain Rolland turned to TV match official Stuart Dickinson and the Australian took repeated views of the tape from at least four angles. Crucially, the reverse camera seemed to show that Danie Rossouw's tackle did enough to slide the winger's left foot out of play before he touched down.

Although Wilkinson kicked the penalty that had already been awarded for Schalk Burger coming in from the side, cutting the arrears to 9-6, there was a sense among the English support that they had just been robbed.

World Cup winners: South Africa's Juan Smith lifts the World Cup

Worse luck was to befall England when Robinson struggled off injured, to be replaced by Danny Hipkiss,who slotted into midfield with Tait moving to full-back.Moments later, a shattered Catt left the fray, with Toby Flood replacing him.

In a matter of seconds England had seen two of their greatest servants leave an international field for the last time, and with them went 126 caps' worth of experience.

When Martin Corry was penalised for hands in the ruck and tournament top scorer Montgomery slotted home the penalty, it was ominous for England.

Just past the hour, South Africa were awarded a penalty against Ben Kay for crossing, a decision by Rolland which was hard to fathom.Up stepped Steyn to launch a penalty from the halfway line through the posts and, crucially, the nine-point lead meant England had to score twice to save the game.

They had chances, but with South Africa stealing seven English line-outs in all, the opportunity ebbed away.

On came George Chuter, Joe Worsley and Lawrence Dallaglio for Mark Regan, Moody and Nick Easter, but Worsley soon limped off and with all England's reserve forwards on the field, substitute scrum half Peter Richards became a flanker in a World Cup final.

Not even this incredible England team could bounce back and South Africa, who conceded just five penalties all match, let the seconds tick away until the sweet shrill of a whistle confirmed them as world champions.
we were robbed. The referee was an idiot. booooo

only kidding.