La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara has suggested that Eddie Jones’ refusal to bend the rules during the Rugby World Cup final may have cost England the match.


Star tighthead Kyle Sinckler was forced to leave the field with concussion after just three minutes and he was replaced by Leicester’s Dan Cole. England then conceded multiple penalties as their scrum was decimated by the Springbok pack.

England went on to lose 32-12 in what was ultimately a convincing win for the South Africans, who deservedly claimed their third Rugby World Cup.

Ex-Ireland flyhalf O’Gara was speaking with Virgin Media Ireland’s Nathaniel Cope and gave an insight into his own win at all costs philosophy. The former Munster playmaker said he was left scratching his head at why the England head coach didn’t make the call to get Cole off the pitch – by hook or by crook.

“Eddie Jones, if you’re in his head, is plotting worst-case scenario probably, Dan Cole comes in and he’s in for 77 minutes. You don’t have extra legs for him or expertise at tighthead.

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“What are you to do?”


“The coach in me was saying, essentially, do you bend the rules and become cynical and make them uncontestable scrums. The game was decided by penalties up front.

“You have to find a way to win no matter what it takes. If you get in trouble, you’ve got a World Cup winners’ medal.”

There is certainly no doubt that England’s scrum meltdown was the central hinge on which the game swung. Sir Clive Woodward said as much at full time.


Woodward, who guided England to 2003 World Cup success, told ITV: “No doubt, the better team won. At this level of rugby, if you can’t scrum properly, if you’re going to give five or six penalties at your scrum against a team like this, you’re always going to come second.

“England will be bitterly disappointed, to go down 32-12 in a World Cup final. They just couldn’t fire a shot because we couldn’t get first phase ball.”

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