The final whistle has brought down the curtain on what seems to have been a very successful and entertaining Rugby World Cup for 2019.

South Africa have rightly been crowned the winners and England branded sore losers after disappointing attitudes shown by some players at the medal ceremony.

Japan certainly exceeded expectations in being the first Asian country to host the tournament, spurred on by their team also exceeding expectations and reaching the knock-out phase, mixing it with the big boys of international rugby.

Not so sure about World Rugby, who are tasked with the responsibility of running the tournament, meeting expectations.


After a few stuttering attempts to influence the refereeing early in the tournament, it was pleasing to see yellow or red cards have no significant influence on the seven knock-out games.

One commentator I heard during the week said that the players seemed to "feel the culture" as the tournament progressed.

I think he meant the culture of rugby and the tournament, as well as the local Japanese culture.

In saying that, it was disappointing to see the disrespectful attitude of some of the English players refusing to have their silver medals presented in the traditional way of being hung over the head by a noted dignitary.

Several players just grabbed their medal and left the stage without wearing them.

I couldn't help but think back to the actions of the Black Caps after they were robbed of their World Cup by an umpiring howler in the final.

Following the exemplary lead of their captain they accepted the result gracefully and just "got on with it."

Sportsmanship is one of the hallmarks of rugby and is referred to often in the law book.


Phrases such as "rugby is rightfully proud of its ability to retain high standards of sportsmanship, ethical behaviour and fair play" and "rugby builds teamwork, understanding, co-operation and respect for fellow participants" appear in the Playing Charter at the introduction to the law book.

Many players probably never read the law book, let alone the introduction.

Perhaps it is time the England players and management came down from their ivory tower and got back to basics, starting with reading that Playing Charter.

The game is about the contest for the possession of the ball.

That includes being rewarded for showing superior skill in retaining possession when a team has the ball, as well as denying the opposition a chance to gain possession for themselves.

South Africa certainly showed superior skill over England in the final, just as England showed superior skill in nullifying the All Blacks' opportunities in their semifinal.

A good example was the domination South Africa showed at the set pieces.

Once the English prop Kyle Sinckler left the field injured early in the match, the English scrum was back pedalled at almost every scrum.

The South African forwards were able to keep pushing "straight and square", while the English scrum retreated at an alarming rate or wheeled around under the pressure of that legal pushing.

Once a team's scrum begins to show a weakness in the front row, usually on one side or the other, they are unable to push straight and square themselves, so they inevitably start wheeling or standing up to escape the exerted pressure of their opposition.

It's not the most entertaining part of the game, but the dominant team's forwards are usually in rugby heaven and quick to show that winning feeling.

Why did some of the England players show such disrespect at the medal ceremony?

I don't think it was because they had invented the game and were sore about being beaten by one of the colonies of their own sport.

I think it has more to do with the club rugby scene in England, and to a lesser extent in Europe – principally France.

The power of clubs there is very strong, so much so that the clubs have at times refused to release "their" players for international games by visiting teams such as the All Blacks, Australia and South Africa.

The English players are a product of that system and the money involved hasn't helped the situation.

Sometimes, the money is more important than playing for your country.

With that attitude it is perhaps not surprising that teams like turned on their coach – France have done it twice at World Cups, 2011 and this year.

The English players certainly didn't turn on Eddie Jones – in fact the opposite seems to have happened.

He led them to believe they were invincible and losing in the final was a pill rather too bitter to swallow for some.

Roll on 2023.