RWC #21: Jannie de Beer kicks 34 points to suffocate England in Paris

South Africa’s back-up outhalf drops five goals to take his side into 1999 semi-finals

Jannie de Beer drops his fourth of five goals against England in the 1999 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. Photograph: Getty

Jannie de Beer drops his fourth of five goals against England in the 1999 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. Photograph: Getty

 

It would be fair for England to consider themselves world rugby’s drop-goal connoisseurs.

In 1991 they beat Scotland by a point to reach the World Cup quarter-finals thanks to Rob Andrew’s effort at Murrayfield. Four years later the same man repeated the trick, nailing a beauty from wide on the left to sink Australia.

The lead drop-goal scorer in World Cup history is Jonny Wilkinson, the record for most scored in a single tournament, eight, is held by Jonny Wilkinson. In 2003 England won the World Cup courtesy of an extra-time drop-goal from, you guessed it, Jonny Wilkinson.

But in 1999 England’s favourite weapon was directly responsible for their demise, as South Africa dumped them out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals.     

The architect of England’s downfall in Paris was 28-year-old Jannie de Beer, the Springboks second choice flyhalf who was in the side in place of the injured Henry Honiball.

He picked off England like a sniper at the Stade de France, taking aim at goal 12 times and finding his target 12 times.

If all of his successful effort had been from place kicks, it would still have been an impressive performance from the Boks back-up. But remarkably de Beer landed five drop-goals from five attempts.

In a tight game de Beer’s kicking was like a slow poison for Clive Woodward’s men. They were trailing just 16-12 at the break but in the second half de Beer put the Springboks further and further ahead.

Each kick turned the screw a bit further and by the end de Beer had taken his tally to 34 points and England had been beaten 44-21.

For Woodward two years of meticulous planning had been trashed in 90 minutes. Like in Cape Town four years earlier England’s World Cup had been ended by a freak performance.

Only this time it was the boot of Jannie de Beer and not the might of Jonah Lomu which proved the kiss of death.

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