RWC will come down to putting the best foot forward
Never mind the scrumming and tackling, the Rugby World Cup winner could be decided by the foot of Percy Montgomery or Jonny Wilkinson, writes Peter Lion.
Originally Published: October 2, 2007By Peter Lion | ESPN.com
The 2007 Rugby World Cup finalists took two different paths to get to the championship match.England and South Africa face off Saturday in a rematch of their pool-round showdown more than a month ago. In that meeting, the Springboks embarrassed the defending RWC champions with a 36-0 shutout, leaving many wondering if England would make it to the quarterfinals.
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|World Cup playoffs|
Friday, Oct. 19
France vs. Argentina, 3 p.m. ET
Saturday, Oct. 20
England vs. South Africa, 3 p.m. ET
Stade de France, St. Denis, France
Two other players worth watching
APRugby World Cup teams have their eyes on the Webb Ellis Cup, named after the man who invented the game.
Jason Robinson, England Lured back into the fray of international play by coach Brian Ashton ahead of last year's Six Nations Tournament, the 33-year-old fullback has been a solid ball handler and a strong presence on the pitch throughout the tourney. With Josh Lewsey out of the finals with a torn hamstring, Robinson will be shouldering more of the load for England. JP Pietersen, South Africa Pietersen is just one in the stable of thoroughbreds you'll see streaking downfield. However, with much of the attention going to stopping the bullet-train Bryan Habana, who's leading the tourney in tries with eight, look for Pietersen and his breakaway speed to play more of a factor in this match. As a prelude to the final, the bronze match on Friday will see the Pumas of Argentina locking horns once more with Les Bleus of France. The two sides last met Sept. 7 in the opening Cup match that saw the Pumas famously upset host country France, setting the table for a tournament that has been chock full of upsets and surprises. Who's going to win
Although the Springboks have the advantage of having blown out England in the pool round, England will come determined to prove it is not the same team, and the shutout loss proved the catalyst needed to propel it through to the finals. When the scrums, mauls, rucks, runs, tries and kicks are done and dusted, it will be England making history as the first team to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup as repeat champions. Peter Lion is an ESPN.com rugby contributor and director for "Outside The Lines."