After the piss poor rugby that England played yesterday faith was restored in the professional game before breakfast this morning by the serving up of eighty minutes of full-on contact sport. This was attack v defence for most of the game with the South African's racking up a Barcelona type of stat with 76% of possession and yet unlike the Catalans they ended up losing and going home.
The debate about whether or not the deciding penalty should have been awarded with rage on but in truth South Africa let so many chances slip away that they only have themselves to blame in many respects. The tackling and commitment was at times brutal and seem exaggerated to almost cartoon like proportions simply because of the size of the some of the guys on the pitch. Nearly the whole of the second half was played within Australia's twenty two line but they stood resolute and the team spirit was there for all to see as every try saving tackle and every ruck won was met with back slapping and the strictly heterosexual practice of slapping each other's arses - something previously only observed in English public schools or gay clubs is very much the norm in mens team sports these days.
The record books will show South Africa 9-11 Australia but, to paraphrase Max Boyce, for those who were there (or watching on TV) it was even closer than that. Australia will probably have to spend the next couple of days in an ice bath after the effort they made and South Africa can't even console themselves with playing for third or fourth place. It's not often I feel sorry for a South African sportsteam but this morning they came so close I just hoped that they would get the chance to go for a potentially winning penalty in the dying seconds but the Aussies held on.
Anyway this was only a Quarter Final and it means that the final will be, as expected, between the north and the south. I have a sneaky suspicion that the French could upset either of these sides in a final but that the Welsh would be too weak. Anyway I'm usually hopeless when it comes to predictions so Wales will probably win and close the Severn Crossing just to piss off the English even more.
As a p.s it wasn't a good weekend all round for South African sport, their national football coach misunderstood the qualification criteria for the 2012 Cup of Nations and played for a draw rather than a win. As a result of that cock-up Niger qualified for a major tournament for the first time in their history.