Rugby World Cup Final: 2019 live, The Springboks advanced to the final in Yokohama via a gritty 19-16 victory over Wales and they are enjoying their underdog status while looking to become the first team in Rugby World Cup history to win the final despite losing a pool match.
If you’ve just noticed the Rugby World Cup is on and want to get up to speed, let us answer some of the pertinent — and not so pertinent — questions ahead of tomorrow night’s final in Yokohama.
Who is favourite and why?
England deserves its listing as favourite and not just because it toppled the All Blacks, as that was not a surprise to any observer who has charted its progress since Jones was appointed as coach in late 2015.
Jones has overseen the development of a punishing defensive unit that has been at its best during the Rugby World Cup, as has been England’s set-pieces.
He has a backline — well-marshalled by dual playmakers George Ford and captain Owen Farrell — that has the ability to pose a significant attacking threat and also at his disposal are several damaging ball-running forwards who can offload in the tackle, such as tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler.
Another area England has dominated is the breakdown, largely because of Jones’s use of two openside flankers in Sam Underhill and Tom Curry, who he has nicknamed the “kamikaze kids”.
Early in Jones’s tenure there were media commentators who suggested England could do without even one traditional openside, yet the outstanding performances of Underhill and Curry in Japan have blown that theory out of the water.
The Springboks, who lost to the All Blacks in their opening pool match, will actually welcome the fact England is expected to win, and they won’t mind that their playing style has been described as “boring” and “not pretty”, but a lot will have to fall in their favour if they are to cause an upset.
Their massive forward pack must win the physical battle and get the upper hand in both the scrum and lineout, so as to utilise one of the best game managers in world rugby, five-eighth Handre Pollard.
ollard is the key to ensuring centre Damian de Allende and the returning livewire winger Cheslin Kolbe are fed with ball and if the Springboks can unleash the pair they could find a crack in the much-vaunted England defensive line.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus would be mindful that the well-drilled England has dictated the pace of its matches so far in Japan. Disrupt England’s flow and the men in white might just be thrown off what as proved to be a successful routine.
Who are the potential gamebreakers?
We don’t want to say “we told you so”, but we did tip Maro Itoje to play a prominent role at the Rugby World Cup and his man-of-the-match effort against the All Blacks in the semi-finals showcased his immense talent.
Itoje rose to the occasion in Yokohama with a devastating display of spot defence, three possession turnovers and a key lineout steal, while his spoiling of a New Zealand maul in the first half was also among a very full highlight reel.