|Rugby World Cup final: England v South Africa|
|Venue: Yokohama International Stadium Date: Saturday, 2 November Kick-off: 09:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.|
England coach Eddie Jones has warned South Africa that Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final is the game he has been planning for since he took control of the team in January 2016.
England are attempting to land their second World Cup to repeat the 2003 success and avenge the Springboks’ victory in the 2007 final.
“We’ve had four years to prepare for this game,” said Jones.
“That’s why the players can be relaxed because we know we’ve done the work.”
Jones has had roles in the opposition camp in England’s two previous Rugby World Cup finals, pushing England deep into extra time with his native Australia in 2003, before joining up with South Africa on a short-term stint for their 2007 campaign.
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He has no doubt that South Africa will deliver the traditional power game promised by opposite number Rassie Erasmus, but believes England can eclipse even the heights they reached in a superb semi-final victory over defending champions New Zealand last weekend.
“South Africa aren’t going to give us the game, they are going to come hard. We’ve got meet their physicality but we are looking forward to that and being able to impose our game on them,” Jones added.
“We can definitely play better, there’s no doubt about it.
“That’s the great thing. We are like any team, we are a bit anxious, a bit nervous but also very excited about the prospect of playing even better.”
South Africa’s Rassie renaissance
The match at the 72,000-capacity Yokohama International Stadium is set to be the final match in charge for Erasmus, who took the Springbok coaching role in March 2018 after Allister Coetzee’s departure.
They were ranked sixth in the world at the time, but Erasmus has overseen a rise to second, losing only eight of his 25 Tests in charge.
Another victory on Saturday would give Siya Kolisi – the team’s first black Test captain – the trophy and his country another symbolic moment to follow predecessor Francois Pienaar and former president Nelson Mandela’s famous meeting on the podium after their 1995 win.
Kolisi grew up in Zwide township of Port Elizabeth, raised by his grandmother and sleeping on the floor, before his rugby talent earned him a scholarship to an exclusive private school.
“What Siya has achieved has been remarkable. For a young kid to rise above his circumstances and become Springbok captain, and lead the way he has, it’s been inspirational to all South Africans – from all walks of life,” said team-mate Tendai Mtawarira.
“Rugby is one of the things that, for a few minutes and sometimes a few hours, days and months, if we win people seem to forget about their disagreements,” added Erasmus.
“We are trying to win for South Africa, and not just for the supporters, but because our country needs a lot of things and we want to help fix that.”
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Echoes of 2003 in Yokohama
As England aim to emulate the class of 2003 there were plenty reminders of England’s solitary World Cup triumph around Yokohama.
Jonny Wilkinson, whose extra-time drop-goal proved decisive 16 years ago, joined England captain Owen Farrell and scrum-half Ben Youngs at training on Friday as the pair practised their own efforts.
The squad received a good luck message from Prince Harry, which included a picture of his son Archie in an England shirt.
The Duke of Sussex attended the 2003 Rugby World Cup final as a teenager, sitting next to the wife of coach Sir Clive Woodward, and will be in the stands for Saturday’s showpiece.
Meanwhile, Matt Dawson, Paul Grayson, Martin Johnson, Mike Tindall and Jason Leonard – all members of the 2003 squad – were reunited in Japan to record a podcast for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Wilkinson, though, believes there is one positive difference between his own mindset and that of the current players.
“A lot of these players are different to me because they are not reclusive and introverted,” he told BBC Sport editor Dan Roan.
“They will deal with it in their own way and it feels a bit like business as usual in the hotel and in training
“Creating that environment is key. Your performance comes from inside and not because you are playing this team at this time.”
England are unchanged from their semi-final demolition of New Zealand, while South Africa make one change with wing Cheslin Kolbe recovering from an ankle injury.
England: Daly; Watson, Tuilagi, Farrell (capt), May, Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Lawes, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Cole, Kruis, Wilson, Spencer, Slade, Joseph
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South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Mtawarira, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Marx, Kitschoff, Koch, Snyman, Mostert, Louw, H Jantjies, Steyn
Who is in charge of the match?
Jerome Garces becomes the first Frenchman to referee a Rugby World Cup final. He will be assisted on the touchlines by compatriot Romain Poite and New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe. Ben Skeen – another New Zealander – is television match official for the match.
England v South Africa head to head
- England have won back-to-back Test matches against South Africa, this after registering just one victory in their 15 matches against the Springboks immediately before this run (D1, L13).
- If England win they will become the first side to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the same edition of the Rugby World Cup.
- South Africa have won three of their previous four Rugby World Cup matches against England (L1), conceding just one try across those four games; their last clash in the tournament was the 2007 final which South Africa won 15-6.
Previous World Cup finals
- South Africa have reached the final of the World Cup for a third time, winning both of their previous two appearances (1995, 2007). This year, however, they are aiming to become the first side to lose a pool-stage match and go on to win the World Cup.
- Both of South Africa’s previous Rugby World Cup final matches have been tryless affairs (15-12 v NZ in 1995, 15-6 v England in 2007).
- This is the fourth time England have reached the Rugby World Cup final, no side has done this more often (Australia and New Zealand also four times), they lost in 1991 and 2007 but triumphed in 2003.
Key player stats
- England’s Maro Itoje has won more turnovers (10) than any other player at the 2019 World Cup and twice as many as any South Africa player (Damian de Allende 5).
- Sam Underhill has made the fifth most tackles (62) of any player at this tournament, he’s made the most sack tackles (9) of anyone in the competition.
- Billy Vunipola has made the most carries (179) and offloads (24) of any tier-one player in 2019, while he’s also gained the most metres (499) of any tier-one forward.
- Makazole Mapimpi already has 13 tries in just 13 caps for South Africa so far, including nine in his last seven appearances for the Springboks.
- Siya Kolisi is set to win his 50th cap for South Africa, it will also be his 20th appearance as Springboks captain, only six men have led South Africa more often in Test rugby.
- Mbongeni Mbonambi is yet to miss a tackle at this World Cup (30/30) and has missed just one of his 29 lineout throws for a success rate of 97%.
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