England player ratings vs South Africa: 2023 Rugby World Cup - Ruck

England player ratings vs South Africa: 2023 Rugby World Cup

Check out the England player ratings vs South Africa as Steve Borthwick’s took on the Springboks in their 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Paris.

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In a thrilling showdown in Paris, England came agonizingly close to staging a remarkable upset and securing a spot in their fifth Rugby World Cup final. South Africa mounted a formidable comeback in the latter stages, clinching a dramatic victory.

England displayed astute tactics and unwavering commitment in the first half, peppering the South Africa backfield with a barrage of kicks, which led to a consistent stream of penalties. Owen Farrell expertly converted four of these penalties, propelling his team to a 12-6 lead at halftime.

The Springboks, however, made significant changes to their lineup in the second half. Despite a Farrell drop-goal extending England’s lead and tantalizingly hinting at a monumental upset, RG Snyman’s try ten minutes before the final whistle narrowed the underdogs’ lead to 15-13. The turning point came when the Springboks’ formidable scrum power earned Handre Pollard a match-winning penalty in the 77th minute. England’s World Cup dreams were dashed in a heart-stopping encounter.

Scroll down for the England player ratings vs South Africa:



  • Tries: 
  • Cons:
  • Pens:  Owen Farrell (3′, 10′, 24′, 39′
  • DGS Owen Farrell (53′)

South Africa: 16

  • Tries: RG Snyman (69′)
  • Cons:  Handre Pollard (70′)
  • Pens: Manie Libbok (21′), Handre Pollard (35′, 78′)


Most points: Owen Farrell – 15

Metres: Courtney Lawes – 41

Defenders beaten: Freddie Steward – 4

Tackles: Tom Curry – 16

Tackles missed: Alex Mitchell – 5

Turnovers won: Maro Itoje – 2

via World Rugby

England player ratings vs South Africa:

1 Joe Marler – 6.5

Selected to start over Ellis Genge due to his scrummaging strengths, and battled hard up-front against Malherbe. Had a great run-out on the loose-head for his first England start in 3 years. Gave away a scrum penalty for not rolling away after 9 minutes, and then again for being offside in the defensive line. Received a talking to at 47 minutes to hold the scrum back, with a few blemishes on an otherwise strong showing. (Ellis Genge, 52′).

2 Jamie George – 6

Started the line-outs well, but let a couple of throws slip threw his fingers as the rain lashed down. Made an excellent turnover at the maul on 14 minutes, which ignited a big scuffle between the two sets of players. Removed Owen Farrell from back-chatting with the referee on 15 minutes, and a 36th minute line-out trick play with Maro Itoje worked, yet the subsequent grubber kick only found a Springbok hand. Not his best day at the line-out with uncharacteristic line-out throws not going straight, with the conditions taking their toll.

3 Dan Cole – 6

Quickest to react to a loose ball, with a key steal in the 13th minute. Won a powerful scrum penalty in the 16th minute, and gave Kitshoff a difficult day up-front. Was pushed onto the back-foot in the second half, as South Africa emptied their bench and the fresh legs had an instant impact. Like Marler, a massive contribution from the tight-head in the semi-final. (Kyle Sinckler, 55′).

4 Maro Itoje – 7

Strong takes off the re-starts, and shone in the line-out. Itoje lead his side’s arial set-piece and stole the ball from the Springboks as well. Let out a big cheer when South Africa were pinged for a not straight line-out throw, which whipped the England forwards into a frenzy. Got the upper hand on Eben Etzebeth, as the titanic lock vacated the pitch after just 45 minutes. Ripped the ball for a big turnover on 47 minutes, with the ‘oh, Maro Itoje’ chants ringing in full force.

5 George Martin – 7.5

Selected over Ollie Chessum with his dominant tackles a key focus of his game. Presented an instant impact as a ball carrier, and a real nuisance at the maul was key in suffocating the Springboks’ physical game. Made a huge hit on Franco Mostert, and drove the former Gloucester lock back about 5m. Recieved some treatment early in the second half, as the hits tallied up on the Leicester Tigers man. Made another monstrous hit, this time on RG Snyman, which stopped any support and led to a breakdown turnover. (Ollie Chessum, 52′).


6 Courtney Lawes – 7

Unlucky to be caught offside by Owen Farrell’s clearance kick, but provided a strong presence in the line-out. Made a key turnover on the floor, as he outmuscled Manie Libbok for a 22nd minute steal. Made another huge turnover just three minutes later, as he was fastest over the ball, once Kolbe was chopped down out wide.

Returned from half-time with a heavily taped calf, and was half a step away from the second half tempo as a result. Impressed in the air for a 64th minute line-out steal, as he didn’t need a lifter to pluck the ball out the air.


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