Friday, 1 November 2019
Rugby World Cup Final Preview
As I type this I'm beginning to feel slightly sick - a case of peaking way too early. I can only hope the England boys handle nerves better than I do.
Back in early August I opined that South Africa would win the World Cup. And now here they are in the Final, which would be a totally scary prospect had I not got so many predictions wrong during this tournament.
Based purely on the semi-final against the All Blacks, it has to be England (doesn't it?) except that history shows that knocking the All Blacks out of the World Cup does not necessarily lead to being champions - see France in '99, Australia in '03, France in '07 as examples.
Could it be that Warren Gatland is correct - that England may have already played their final? I hope not - and a re-watch of the semi-final against New Zealand does show a number of missed first-half opportunities by England in the All Black 22, so there is definitely still room for improvement and for this team to get better. Let's hope that they do that on Saturday.
As for South Africa, we all think we know what they will be bring and I seriously doubt that, unlike England in the '91final, they will be duped into attempting to play a significantly more expansive game than we've seen so far. Their threats are obvious - a monster pack, a solid midfield, Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe.
It is likely to be tense. It is likely to be close.
The heart says England.
The head says England.
But in reality it's a 50/50 game.
I'm firmly on the fence and, frankly, I'm bricking it.