Twenty teams started off the 2019 Rugby World Cup, with the goal of becoming world champions. We now know our finalists. England vs South Africa will face off on Saturday in one of the most eagerly anticipated finals, with the two sides just 80 minutes away from sporting immortality.
Saturday’s final will be a repeat of the 2007 final in Paris, which South Africa won 15-6. The stats are in South Africa’s favour, with England’s only World Cup victory over the Springboks coming in the 2003 pool stages, a victory which helped them on their way to winning the World Cup. In a total of 42 Test matches, South Africa have defeated England 25 times, with England winning 15 and two draws – however, England did win their last meeting, a 12-11 victory at Twickenham back in 2018.
Despite the stats and injuries, England will go into the final as favourites, after a convincing victory over the All Blacks in the semi-finals, New Zealand’s first World Cup defeat for 12 years. England’s masterplan was based on staples of set pieces – strength and defence. England made an extraordinary side look ordinary and England coach Eddie Jones revealed that he had been assembling the parts of his plan since the Rugby World Cup draw was made back in Kyoto in 2017.
South Africa will have to up their game after an underwhelming display against Wales – a match that contained more kicks out of hand than it did actual minutes. Eddie Jones was a spectator for this one and will have a lot to think about having seen South Africa adopt a rigid game plan, daring Wales to break down an aggressive defence. It’s how they won the World Cup 12 years ago, with Jones knowing more than most as he was sitting on the management team as a consultant back then.
As is often the case with huge finals, form can go out the window. But after dominating the back-to-back World Champions and sending them packing, England deserve to be the favourites and if they can keep the same amount of discipline we have seen from them so far this tournament, they will certainly have a great chance to win their second World Cup on Saturday.
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