South Africa take on England in Rugby World Cup final
England’s pace and attack are set to meet South Africa’s physicality and defence in the tournament’s final.
After six weeks, 47 games and one deadly typhoon that briefly wreaked havoc with the first World Cup to be staged in Asia, the winner of rugby’s biggest prize will be determined in a contest between the two most physically intimidating teams around.
The Springboks, World Cup winners in 1995 and 2007, and 2003 champion England have long prided themselves on their physicality.
England’s rugby team has some big-name fans, with messages of support before Saturday’s World Cup final coming from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself.
Squaring up against England will be South Africa captain Siya Kolisi, whose origins lie about as far from royalty as it is possible to come from.
Kolisi did not have a television at home the last time the Springboks played in the Rugby World Cup final, but 12 years on leads his team out in Saturday’s decider against England in a remarkable rags-to-riches story.
Kolisi grew up in one of the few black areas where rugby is as popular as football, raised by his paternal grandmother, but did not pick up a rugby ball until he was seven.
Kolisi was 16 when South Africa edged England in the 2007 final in Paris.
Saturday’s final marks a 50th cap for Kolisi, who made his debut for his country in 2013 and participated at the 2015 World Cup where South Africa finished third.
South Africa first won the rugby World Cup in 1995, having hosted the tournament in a newly democratic country. The sight of captain Francois Pienaar receiving the Webb Ellis trophy from a clearly jubilant Nelson Mandela remains one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport.
England have won the tournament just once, but their orientation as a fast-running, attacking team will match up strongly against a South African team built on physicality and defence.
For the two squads and the thousands of fans who have travelled to see them, this will be the biggest game of their lives – and it kicks off at 09:00 GMT on Saturday.