The final game of the Autumn Nations Series and a visit of the world champions Springboks to end what has been a challenging campaign for England. With three down and one final Green Room at Twickenham in 2022, we couldn’t wait for guests to arrive for the big match.
After England’s incredible last 10 minutes against the All Blacks last week, England fans were thoroughly optimistic that they could repeat 2021’s stunning victory against South Africa. As guests streamed into the Green Room, the mood was confident yet cautious – a sentiment echoed by Phil Vickery, Lawrence Dallaglio and Will Greenwood as they provided expert insight ahead of the game.
Ollie Dabbous of Hide Restaurant fame was once again in the kitchen cooking up a storm and fortunately the weather gods missed the brief as the forecasted downpour failed to materialise. A beautiful salmon tartare followed by duck confit with soaked prunes, spices, root vegetables & brassicas provided guests with a tastebud tantalising feed.
Enjoying the entertainment and epicurean extravagances were none other than Daredevil star Charlie Cox, former Olympic athlete Kelly Sotherton, Masterchef host Gregg Wallace and Olympic gold medal winning rower James Cracknell. The Champagne flowed freely, the laughs echoed loudly and with pre-match pints poured, it was time to head out into the chilly November night for a huge encounter with the Boks.
As is always the case with South Africa, a tough, physical battle ensued. Faf de Klerk and Owen Farrell exchanged penalties and Damian Willemse slotted an opportunistic drop goal but much of the first half was dominated by the forward battle upfront. It wasn’t until Willie Le Roux fielded Damian Willemse’s chip through before a sublime pop to speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse who skinned the English cover defence to dive over in the corner for the first try of the game after 33 minutes.
With England going into the shed 14-3 down after 40 minutes, the men in white would have to come out firing in the second half. Tom Curry’s yellow card after 48 minutes did not help England’s cause and just a minute later, gargantuan Springbok second-row Eben Etzebeth bulldozed his way over the line for South Africa’s second try. With the score now at 27-6 and England staring a heavy defeat in the face, Eddie Jones’ men rallied. Helped my South African prop Thomas Du Toit’s red card after 60 minutes, it still took a further 10 minutes before England were able to register their first try of the day. England ultimately could not make their one-man advantage pay and the game ended 27-13 to South Africa.
After having only recorded one win this Autumn, England will have to re-evaluate ahead of the 6 Nations and our rugby icons were scathing of their tactics post-match. Still though, with a large South African contingent in The Green Room, the post-match atmosphere was lively to say the least and despite the result, everyone departed The Green Room having enjoyed a thrilling matchday experience.
With The Green Room doors now closed at Twickenham for another year, we’re already looking forward to the 6 Nations kicking off at the start of February. Only a couple of short months to wait and we’ll be back for the Calcutta Cup clash as England take on Scotland – hope to see you then!