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How Jason Robinson sees England vs South Africa playing out

By Ian Cameron
Jason Robinson of the Barbarians applauds the fans following his final international appearance during the Gartmore Challenge match between the Barbarians and South Africa at Twickenham on December 1, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Former tournament winner Jason Robinson says he believes that England can cause an upset in their Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa later today in the Stade de France, but only if they throw caution to the wind.


Robinson – who won 51 caps for England – says that Steve Borthwick’s side must come to play against the Springboks if they are to have any chance of bagging a famous underdog victory, even if he admits he thinks it’s unlikely.

“We are certainly going into this as underdogs. South Africa was my choice to win the tournament outright,” Robinson said. “If you look at their team and the physicality they have got, it’s huge. Probably more than any other team in the competition.

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“I think what makes them even stronger is their backline which can cause so much damage. The half-backs have all the skills in the world alongside some tough centres and some outstanding wingers who can make something out of nothing so it will be a huge ask for England.

“But England will have a lot more confidence than they did when they first came into the tournament, being the only northern hemisphere team in the semi-finals is a big achievement.


Last 5 Meetings

Average Points scored
First try wins
Home team wins

“I think last week’s game against Fiji was a big one as they were under a lot of pressure as Fiji beat them 6 weeks ago, so that was a big win.

“These games, despite not being favourites, are one off games and anything can happen on the day.


“England have some great players and those who played in the 2019 final will want to put that wrong, right.”

Outlining how he thinks England can give themselves the best chance of overcoming the challenge of South Africa he continued: “We must play the opposite way we did in the 2019 final. When you play against South Africa you know it’s going to be hugely physical, but you can’t get sucked into a physical game.

“In 2019 we did that; we had a massive win against New Zealand in the semis and we went into the final and we forgot how to play and played into their hands by just trying to take them on physically.”

Robinson warns about getting in an arm wrestle with the Boks, a game that England simply cannot win.


Team Form

Last 5 Games

Tries Scored
Points Difference
First Try
First Points
Race To 10 Points

“We cannot go and play conservative; we must throw caution to the wind and try stuff and take them on and chip over the top and put some moves on in the wider channels and try and create something. This is going to be England’s biggest game in a long, long time so I must go in with confidence and go for it. Leave it all out there.”

“I think the way South Africa are playing they will win. I’m not sure England will have enough to test them. But this is why we love sport, I also thought Ireland were going to win and Wales were going to beat Argentina and that wasn’t the case so anything can happen.

“We saw Fiji beating Australia, so it doesn’t always go to form and hopefully England have had a good week and are rested up.

“Every team, as strong as they are, always has a weakness. With a bit of luck England could do it and I’ll be rooting for them.”

“This week is more mental than physical.

“As you go further in the tournament the pressure gets bigger. A semi-final is bigger than a quarter final and a final is bigger than the semis so it’s about making sure mentally you are just steady.

“Confidence doesn’t just come in ability; it comes in how your mindset is and going into this game if I was a winger, I’d be looking at the opposite winger I’m playing against and I’d be thinking ‘I’m going to be getting the better of you today’.
“Everybody’s looking at how good South Africa is and what they are doing but for me it would be a case of having a mindset of ‘I need to nullify and be better than my opposite number’.

“There are a lot of outside distractions. The key is to just have this focus now and not to get distracted.”

World Cup winner Jason Robinson was speaking to branding and marketing specialists Champions (UK) Plc. For more details visit</em>


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Neil 245 days ago

I too felt that England have nothing to lose and should take a chance and roll the dice, but from the selection, we can clearly see Borthwick has not elected to play with pace otherwise we’d be seeing Arundell on the bench. That doesn’t mean England don’t have a plan however, and I expect to see Steward playing a much more attacking role rather than sitting deep. We’ll see how things shake out, but I’m going for an upset today!!

Another 245 days ago

I think, on a fundamental level, Jason Robinson is wrong about the approach. England do need to take on SA physically, and win in those areas, to beat the Boks. Attempting to run the ball around, or attempt to be overelaborate in attack in unlikely to work out well.

Bob Marler 245 days ago

Imagine the English Changing room.

10 minutes until the players go on, to play in one of the most important games of their lives. The hopes of all England on their shoulders. A few weeks of hard work by Borthwick…

He steps into the huddle…

“Boys, let’s throw caution to the wind…”

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