"England Are Underdogs" Jason Robinson Backs South Africa in Rugby World Cup Semi-Final - Ruck

“England Are Underdogs” Jason Robinson Backs South Africa in Rugby World Cup Semi-Final

England take on South Africa tomorrow night in the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final, in what is going to be a truly testing match for Steve Borthwick’s side. 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Jason Robinson believes England need to ‘throw caution to the wind’ to take the victory against the Springboks.

Robinson believes that England are certainly the underdogs, but knows that anything can happen if an England side is ‘going for it’ on the Rugby World Cup stage. Robinson has previously picked out the Springboks as his side to go all the way, and win a fourth Rugby World Cup title. Speaking with growth consultancy Champions (UK) PLC, Robinson said;

“We are certainly going into this as underdogs. South Africa was my choice to win the tournament outright.

“If you look at their team and the physicality they have got, it’s huge. Probably more than any other team in the competition.

“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.
“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.“

Robinson certainly knows how to make the key moments count in the biggest matches. The former Sale Sharks winger scored an all-important try in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final, which saw Sir Clive Woodward’s England defeat Australia for their one and only Rugby World Cup title to date. Robinson looked back four years ago to Japan, when England were defeated by the Springboks 32-12 in Yokohama.

“We must play the opposite way we did in the 2019 final” Robinson said.

“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.

“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.”

Explaining how he thinks the game will go, Robinson admitted the undeniable strengths of Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks. “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.”

Robinson is all too familiar with the preparations the England squad will be undergoing. The winger highlighted how so much of the training week will have a focus on getting mentally ready, as well as physically prepared for the powerful and imposing Springboks.

“This week is more mental than physical.” He added. “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.

MELBOURNE – JUNE 21: Jason Robinson of England charges forward during the Rugby Union Test Match between Australia and England held on June 21, 2003 at The Telstra Dome, in Melbourne, Australia. England won the match 25-14. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“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  championsukplc.com