Felix Jones and three words that capture South Africa's World Cup 2 weeks ago

Felix Jones and three words that capture South Africa's World Cup

South Africa could become the first time in World Cup history to lose a game in the tournament and still win the Webb Ellis trophy.

One learned soul observed, near the end of the first half of the second World Cup semi final of the weekend, that England and New Zealand had served up a classic as both sides were trying to win. South Africa and Wales were stinking the joint out, he further observed, because both sides were playing not to lose.

For England, they won with ballsiness and zeal.

For South Africa, they won by stopping Wales playing, through Damien De Allende's fine try and through Handre Pollard sticking his kicks.

There are more than one ways to skin game, and South Africa did what they must to reach their first World Cup final in 12 years. That's all that matters.

Following the game, Paul O'Connell revealed a snippet of a post-match conversation he had with Jones. O'Connell, on ITV punditry duty in Japan, said:

"I was talking to Felix after the game and he was telling me about the message Rassie was getting through to the [South African] lads - Don't crack first. They play the sort of game that leads you to make mistakes and from those mistakes they want to get penalties from their scrum and from their lineout maul."

Don't crack first. No wonder Rassie Erasmus, the Springbok's head coach, was so pivotal in Munster getting their competitive edge back. Erasmus also drafted in Jones, two months prior to the World Cup, and the Dubliner has slotted seamlessly in.

Ahead of the Springboks' World Cup final against England, this weekend, Flannery and Andrew Trimble discussed Jones and Erasmus on the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby.

Four and a half years ago, a 27-year-old Jones was in Murrayfield with his Ireland teammates (pictured above) as they celebrated clinching back-to-back Six Nations titles.

Eight months later and a neck injury was forcing his far-too-early retirement. Jones begun to show an interest, and proficiency, in the coaching side of rugby and had set himself up for his next step. Munster brought him in as technical coach in 2016/17 and he prospered there for two seasons before, at the end of last decision, deciding to step away at the same time as Flannery. Erasmus did not wait long and snapped him up.

Flannery has been in regular contact with Jones while he is in Japan, with the Boks. He has tried to keep the conversation personal and jovial - not delving into tactics too much - but has still picked up some nice insights.

"I said to him [earlier in the World Cup], 'Scotland and Samoa was terrible today. Scotland's handling was awful.'

"Felix said, 'Man, you have no idea how slippery that ball gets. After 30 minutes, it's so humid, it's so sweaty and so hot that it's almost impossible to hold onto the ball'. So it was good for me and it tempers you comments when you're in a studio, working on the games."

"Think of it," Flannery added, "Felix turned down his contract from Munster in May, and now he's coaching in a World Cup final.

"We'll see what he does after the World Cup but if South African win, he'll have a lot of options. He's going to be the first Irishman with a World Cup medal."

Life came at Felix Jones fast but he scrambled and rebounded extremely well. At 32, he will be backs coach for South Africa at a World Cup final.

For Flannery, there is pride but, as a proud Munster man, there is also regret.

"It's nice for him... it's disappointing, too, as he's a great coach and it's a shame that he's not at Munster but good for him."


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The latest episode sees Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look back on the GOOD vs. EVIL World Cup semi finals and this weekend's final.