England legend Mike Tindall tears into South Africa ahead of Rugby World Cup tie

Earl and England look ahead to Rugby World Cup semi-final

Mike Tindall claims that South Africa should not even be in the semi-finals ahead of their Rugby World Cup clash with England this weekend. The 45-year-old admits that he was passionately cheering for France to down the Springboks on Sunday, when the two sides did battle in one of the tournament’s standout matches.

Tindall knows a thing or two about what it takes to go all the way at the Rugby World Cup. The former Bath and Gloucester star was part of the England squad that prevailed in 2003, and he earned 75 international caps before retiring in 2014.

England are widely expected to be found out when they face South Africa, despite Steve Borthwick’s side putting together a five-match unbeaten run since the start of the tournament.

But Tindall seems unconvinced that the Springboks are all they’re cracked up to be, pulling no punches in his assessment of their recent 29-28 win over Les Bleus.

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“I was more emotional about that game than the English game,” he told The Good, The Bad and The Rugby. “I just so wanted France to get where they deserve to be. They deserved to win that game; they were the better team by an absolute country mile.

“South Africa lost on every stat across the board, but they had three snapshots from box-kicks not dealt with properly. They didn’t create anything, yet that is what South Africa do in World Cups.

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“If you go back to 2019, I said: ‘It would be a disgrace if South Africa won the World Cup,’ and they won it. If you go through everything, France should have won that game.”

England boss Borthwick hailed the big-game mentality of his players after the quarter-final win over Fiji, adding that they would once again be ‘written off’ against the Springboks. But Tindall has distinguished between knockout rugby and all other forms of the game, suggesting that the Red Rose could yet produce a surprise at Stade de France.

“The biggest factor in this is that you’re now in semi-final rugby, and what that does for the pressure levels,” he continued. “It’s knockout rugby; it’s the only time you can believe because you have to. It’s not like playing an autumn series.

“There’s only one game, it’s 80 minutes, and it only takes a few decisions. [England] will go a bit [into a] siege mentality, but it comes down to their intent. South Africa had their one game, why can’t we have our one game in this semi-final?”

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