I used to be emotionally exhausted by It was the nerve-jangling night I assumed it may be.
The 2 groups arrived on the event in very completely different states. England had misplaced to Fiji of their last warm-up match. South Africa had crushed New Zealand by a file rating.
However all through the week's build-up you possibly can really feel that it was going to be a far tighter contest that these outcomes might need advised.
England had grown in confidence by means of their marketing campaign. The heavy rain that was forecast, and duly arrived, was at all times going to be a leveller. South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was busy on social media which is at all times a suggestion that he is aware of he's in for a tricky match.
It felt that the celebs had been beginning to align for England and as soon as the match acquired underway they performed a easy gameplan with supreme accuracy. South Africa's errors fuelled their perception and it felt just like the Springboks had been spiralling out of the match.
It jogged my memory of how England disintegrated in that last in Yokohama in 2019 – however an entire function reversal.
The distinction was that England couldn't fairly get out of attain on the scoreboard. The match was at all times only a second away from a major momentum shift. That was the supply of pressure and angst for England followers.
South Africa had that glimmer of hope and within the last 10 minutes or in order that they discovered a method to realise it with RG Snyman's attempt to Handre Pollard's long-range penalty.
These 10 factors sprung from South Africa's sudden dominance within the scrum. That caught me abruptly. It's clearly one of many Springboks conventional strengths, however the replacements they made had been taking bulk out of their pack.
Snyman instead of Eben Etzebeth. Ox Nche on for Steven Kitshoff. Kwagga Smith on for Siya Kolisi. Deon Fourie on for Duane Vermeulen.
These 4 switches added as much as a web lack of 32kg or 5 stone within the South Africa pack, however their cohesion and coordination proved an excessive amount of for England's substitute props Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge. I discovered that tremendous.
Mentality and consistency key for coming years
Was that efficiency a template for the way the group ought to play sooner or later?
I do not know. Nevertheless it was the right type for Saturday. England's kick-chase sport and give attention to defence had been simply what they wanted towards South Africa, particularly contemplating the wet situations.
The distinction to earlier performances was the accuracy, composure and readability that England.
On a dry day, towards opposition with a taller again three and a extra expansive gameplan, it could not have labored so nicely.
However what England need to take from it's that big-match mentality – their depth, accuracy and managed aggression was there and is naked minimal if you wish to compete with one of the best groups on the earth.
The top of 1 Rugby World Cup marketing campaign inevitably will get individuals wanting ahead to the following, how England can enhance and which gamers may be in place by Australia 2027.
What you could bear in mind is that that event is 4 years away. A lot can occur between every now and then. Freddie Steward, one in every of England's finest gamers final night time, was watching the 2019 Rugby World Cup last in a pupil bar! He wasn't on anybody's radar then.
The temptation is at all times to hurry in a brand new period – to maneuver on older gamers and blood new ones.
However take a look at how nicely Johnny Sexton has been enjoying and he's 38. South Africa's quantity eight Vermeulen is 37.
My view is straightforward.
If you're adequate, you might be adequate – at both finish of the age scale.
Use the younger gamers to push the older gamers. Use the older gamers to cross on their expertise to the youthful gamers. Collectively, that competitors and friction helps push the entire group ahead.
The very last thing you wish to do is prematurely and arbitrarily ditch anybody over, say, 32. You lose expertise and knowhow and, in case you lose just a few video games, you lose momentum.
The distinction as an alternative must be in how we carry gamers into the set-up. Coach Steve Borthwick's predecessor Eddie Jones would always carry gamers out and in. There was no consistency in choice. There was no likelihood to construct a group and its patterns.
If both George Martin or Ollie Chessum is Borthwick's man within the second row, he has to point out some religion and provides them a concerted run of video games.
There are areas to take a look at. Are Theo Dan and Jack Walker the hookers to push Jamie George? Who're the scrum-halves behind Jack van Poortvliet and Alex Mitchell?
However England are popping out of this event in fairly fine condition. They've made unbelievable progress and, after such an underwhelming build-up, have given the remainder of the rugby world a reminder that they're nonetheless a pressure.
They had been three minutes from a Rugby World Cup last and no-one may have denied that they'd have deserved to get there.
The gamers had finished themselves and the nation proud. They've needed to cope with a change of coach, some tough outcomes earlier this 12 months and the membership sport struggling the lack of Wasps, Worcester and London Irish and been wonderful representatives on and off the pitch.
They need to be extremely constructive going ahead, but in addition recognise that now we have been right here earlier than.
You would have mentioned the identical after the final Rugby World Cup.
The Rugby Soccer Union wants to verify these guys get the safety and continuity to ship their finest.
Add extra reminiscences with Barbarians mindset towards Pumas
Friday's third place play-off towards Argentina is a humorous kind of fixture. It may be yet one more for fringe gamers to attempt to press their case earlier than subsequent 12 months's Six Nations.
It most likely will not be Steve Borthwick's type, however I'd strategy it virtually like a Barbarians fixture.
This England squad won't ever be collectively once more. This event is exclusive to these in that camp. I'd give them the house and freedom to bond and socialise collectively as individuals, slightly than gamers. Allow them to create extra reminiscences after which exit and chase a win collectively.
The night time after that sport is the ultimate – a becoming sport to crown a fantastic event.
South Africa and New Zealand are the 2 best rugby international locations on the earth. They're the info. To have them of their first last collectively since 1995 – practically 30 years in the past – and have the most important prize be contested by the most important rivalry within the sport is ideal.
Hopefully the climate is drier than on Saturday night time and the ball is flying round.
New Zealand might be important favourites. Their semi-final win towards Argentina was virtually a coaching run in comparison with South Africa's slugfest. They've additionally had an additional day's relaxation. Their assault is crackling with menace.
A file fourth title is theirs for the taking. There isn't a hesitation in my thoughts about that.