ENGLAND will aim to make their mark on the world order of rugby by striking a blow for the northern hemisphere against a formidable South African team.
Japan have already made Rugby World Cup 2019 a tournament to remember, not just for being welcoming hosts but for changing the world order, moving up the rankings with famous wins against Ireland and Scotland and making their first appearance in the knockout stages.
The Springboks have their own momentous targets in sight. Should they win, Siya Kolisi would become the first black captain to lead South Africa – or any other team – to the title. If they win the match the Springboks will claim the title for the third time since 1995 and the Webb Ellis Trophy will remain in the southern hemisphere.
If South Africa, who lost their opening game to the All Blacks and are striving to become the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup despite a defeat along the way, cannot stop them England will complete a remarkable clean sweep against all four southern hemisphere sides within a month. They beat Argentina 39-10, Australia 40-16, and New Zealand by 19-7.
England is the only northern hemisphere side ever to have won the Rugby World Cup, whereas New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have collectively won seven times. A second triumph for the north, by a team who finished fifth and second in the past two Six Nations Championships, would provide a lift for European rugby.
The Springboks have won the Rugby World Cup twice without scoring or conceding a try in those finals. The boot has ruled both matches, in 1995 against New Zealand and in 2007, when Percy Montgomery’s kicks were enough to see off England 15-6 in Paris. Handre Pollard, a contender to be leading points-scorer in Japan, will hope to emulate Montgomery in Yokohama.
Given that the finalists have the two best defensive records at RWC 2019 it could result in tense match from start to end.