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What Danny Care said when sat in a post-game bath with Maro Itoje

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Danny Care has reflected on the crushing sense of disappointment at seeing England agonisingly lose their Rugby World Cup semi-final.

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The sub scrum-half arrived into the Stade de France battle on 53 minutes and within seconds he was making a pass to Owen Farrell, who banged a spectacular drop goal between the uprights from near the halfway line.

That shunted Steve Borthwick’s team into a two-score advantage but it ultimately wasn’t enough to qualify for next Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final versus New Zealand.

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Instead, the Springboks struck with 10 late points to secure their 16-15 win and it left the English pondering post-game ifs, buts and maybes.

“I have never lost a World Cup semi-final before,” said the 36-year-old Care in the aftermath.

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“It was tough, tough in that changing room. Steve and Owen both talked brilliantly, said how proud they were of the lads, of the effort that we have put in. Unfortunately, having great effort doesn’t quite get you over the line sometimes.

“I was sat in the bath with Maro (Itoje) then and we just kind of said, ‘Sport, it can be cruel’. That’s why you love it so much, it’s on a knife edge so often and obviously one happy changing room and one really sad one.

“For me personally, when time is running out on your international career, it’s tough to take but I’m incredibly proud to be part of this team.

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“A lot of stuff was said about it [the team] before but hopefully we have changed some perceptions and maybe got people believing in us again. This team is only going to go on to bigger and better things, I’m sure of that.”

What clinched victory for the title-defending South Africa was a long-range Handre Pollard penalty following a scrum infringement, the ball going through the uprights with two and a half minutes remaining on the clock.

England’s attempt to rescue the situation then ended with a Billy Vunipola knock-on at halfway. “You never think you have had it won when it is that close with a team like South Africa and a kicker like Pollard.

“It was a hell of a kick to put a team into a final,” reckoned Care. “Ultimately, they are in the big dance and we are not. Tough lesson to learn but we are really proud of the lads, what we have put out there the last couple of months.

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“You are just praying one (scrum penalty) will go your way. I’m not a scrum specialist, I’m not an expert on it, so I can’t really comment on exactly what’s going on in there. But yeah, it’s tough to take and when they have got Handre Pollard kicking the ball, you pray he is going to miss one and he didn’t.”

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Care then spoke about why England couldn’t get off a last-gasp drop attempt. “We were quite a way out. I mean, Owen’s drop goal earlier was one of the most casual, brilliant drop goals I have ever seen in my life. Even he was a bit surprised by it.

“We were probably a bit too far, we probably needed to be 10 or 15 metres a bit further up. I thought we could keep hold of the ball, maybe a penalty comes somewhere. There was one where I was dying for him [the referee] to give a ‘not rolling away’ penalty but he didn’t.”

The loss will now see England contest the bronze medal match with Argentina next Friday in Paris, a repeat of the fixture that opened Pool D on September 9 in Marseille.

Can they pick themselves up for that match and might it be the final game of Care’s distinguished Test career?

“We have to, we want to. Obviously, we would have loved to be in the big dance but we’re not. The next best thing you can do is to finish third and try and make people at home proud,” he said, adding: “I’m always here and available. If there is a need for me, if I can help still then I’ll never say no.”

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Comments

2 Comments
M
Michael 237 days ago

O'keefe didn't want to award England a penalty in those last 2 minutes and their defence letting in that try was woeful. But the loss was because of Steward's kick with 4 minutes to play. Kick it long in that weather and there's no way they were coming back with so little time on the clock. Wrong wrong option to go high and terrible execution.

B
Bob Marler 238 days ago

“Pass the loofah”?

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