Cape Town - Legendary former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson says the Springboks caught the Red Roses off guard with their tactics in the Rugby World Cup final.

South Africa entered the game as underdogs but stunned England with a dominant performance to run out 32-12 victors.

The Springboks headed into the final copping criticism for excessive kicking but varied their play more in the final.

Dawson, a World Cup winner in 2003, said via a column for BCC Sport that the Boks surprised England with their tactics and lamented that his countrymen were unable to adapt.

He wrote: "England head coach Eddie Jones has had a blinding tournament and, tactically, has been great throughout. But on this occasion South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus was awesome. Wherever England attacked, the Springboks had defence.

"They were very disciplined. They were tactically spot on. They played in the right areas. They had the balance of their kicking game opposed to when it was on to run - they chose the right time and made good decisions.

"We have been praising Jones and waxing lyrical about how perfect England's build-up and preparation has been. But ironically they lost because they looked like they did not have the ability to adapt on the field when South Africa were not playing the way that England expected."

Dawson, 47, played 77 Tests for the England between 1995 and 2006 and also played seven Tests for the British and Irish Lions.

He was the starting scrumhalf when England beat Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert