Former England captain on what sets the Springboks apart in knockout rugby

Former England captain on what sets the Springboks apart in knockout rugby

Former England captain Chris Robshaw has commended the Springboks' ability to get over the line in tight games on the biggest stage.

The holders have earned the right to defend their Rugby World Cup title after a narrow 16-15 win over England in the semi-final. It was a match that seemed like it would fall the Red Rose's way before an Ox Nche-inspired final quarter stole the win finalised by a late Handre Pollard penalty.

Pollard was fresh off kicking a winning penalty the week before, bundling out hosts France 29-28 in another dramatic game.

Robshaw praised the Springboks' unique ability to find a way to get over the line regardless of how it is done.

"I think whenever you play South Africa - the French and the English, I'm sure, were saying the same - you always think, 'How did we lose that game?'" Robshaw said on Planet Rugby's Captain's Call, a Rugby World Cup podcast.

"Because often, like Sergio (Parisse) says, they don't win by four tries or something like that; they just have an ability to find a way of winning whether that's going back to their forward pack, whether that's squeezing teams, whether that's Pollard kicking a last-minute penalty and then you come out of the game and think, we feel like they haven't done a lot, but they've beaten us still."

The former flanker believes the grittiness comes from their vast experience, considering the core of the group claimed the World Cup in 2019 and the big games they have won since, including a British & Irish Lions series win in 2021.

"You feel like you're in the game the whole time, but they're such a hard team to get one over on, and I think with their experience, with, of course, they've won the last World Cup, and they've been around the world and won some big games as well," the former England skipper added.

"I think when you get in those tight battles, you have that kind of mentality in the back of your head that someone's going to get us out of trouble. We've been in this situation before, and I think more than any other team in world rugby, I always find that they are that team."

For the Springboks, there is one game left against their greatest rivals, and with both sides leading the rest of the globe with three World Cups each, Saturday will crown the most successful team in history.

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