England’s route to the Rugby World Cup final seriously hampered their chances against South Africa, according to Ronan O’Gara.
The La Rochelle head coach was on Off The Ball on Sunday and touched on England’s challenging schedule on their quest to World Cup glory.
“You look at the routes to the final. So from South Africa’s point of view - beaten by New Zealand.
“After that they play Namibia, Canada, Italy, Japan in a quarter-final, Wales in a semi-final and England to be world champions. It’s crazy the role the draw has on this competition,” O’Gara said.
Eddie Jones’ side played well below their ability in the final against the Springboks, eventually succumbing to a 20-point defeat after two late tries.
The 2003 Rugby World Cup champions were exemplary the previous week against the All Blacks so questions have been raised over their abject final performance.
“You look at it from England’s point of view - they played Argentina and they’d two other games in the pool.
“One against France that doesn’t go ahead. Then to be champions you have to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It’s very different.
“The message I think I take from this is it is the best team for the 80 minutes because to beat New Zealand you have to empty the tank.
“England did that and did it convincingly but they couldn’t go again,” O’Gara commented.
The former Munster and Ireland fly-half was still complimentary of England’s World Cup form and felt that three teams, in particular, impressed during the tournament.
“I think for me the three stand-out teams were South Africa - how they managed to turn around their whole rugby world in 24 months.
“I think Japan in the fact they managed to beat Ireland and Scotland in the pool stages.
“A massive tip of the hat to them. I thought England were pretty exceptional in this World Cup as well,” O’Gara said.
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