Rugby-Robshaw facing fresh criticism over decision-making

Tom Bartlett
Reuters Middle East

LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - England captain Chris Robshaw's decision-making came under scrutiny for the second week running on Saturday as England were edged out 16-15 by South Africa at Twickenham.

Debate will rage over a key moment with two minutes remaining when, with England trailing by four points, Robshaw told Owen Farrell to kick a penalty rather than bang the ball in the corner and chase a match-winning try.

The 80,000 crowd voiced their opinion with almost universal booing and although Farrell's kick was successful it left South Africa still holding a slim advantage which they held after the restart to hand England another loss.

Robshaw was criticised last weekend for not going for goal enough in the defeat by Australia.

"Unfortunately it was probably the wrong call," Robshaw told BBC Sport. "You have to judge every game as it comes and get a feel for it. That falls on my head. At the end of the day, I have to make those decisions."

It certainly underlined the old adage that rugby tests are won by good decisions made at crucial times but England head coach Stuart Lancaster resisted the temptation to question his skipper publicly.

"There are lots of decisions that get made in a game," Lancaster told reporters. "I won't start commenting on one individual decision after the game, especially not in a press conference. We'll wait for the emotion to go out."

But Lancaster was clearly surprised, adding his team "could've and should've won."


The Springboks held off the fast finishing hosts at a rain-drenched Twickenham with a fortunate try by powerhouse flanker Willem Alberts just after halftime ultimately proving the difference in a match dominated by penalties.

England had built good momentum with a plenty of possession in the final quarter, although their inability to break South Africa open and turn opportunities into tries cost them.

South Africa's captain Jean de Villiers said he felt some sympathy for his opposite number, saying Robshaw had found himself in a no-win situation.

"Had they (England) caught that ball from the kick off, they could've come into our area and got a penalty," he said.

Robshaw may be facing another week of scrutiny ahead of the visit by world champions New Zealand but Lancaster remained defiant in defeat, offering up a side of England that will please the fans who question the heart of the team after the 2011 World Cup debacle.

"You can't question the character of this England team at the moment," Lancaster said.

"You might have been able to in the past but you can't now....the players deserve credit for that." (Editing by Martyn Herman)

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