Rugby World Cup final: England team unchanged for South Africa match

Media playback is not supported on this device

Rugby World Cup final: England will play without fear – Eddie Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones says his team are ready to produce their finest hour after naming an unchanged team for Saturday’s World Cup final against South Africa.

Captain Owen Farrell, leading try-scorer Jonny May and prop Kyle Sinckler have all been passed fit after carrying knocks from the semi-final win over New Zealand.

Farrell stays at inside centre with George Ford once again picked at fly-half, while scrum-half Ben Spencer is on the bench after flying out last weekend as emergency cover following an injury to Willi Heinz.

Jones said: “We know South Africa are going to come at us, and we’re going to come at them even harder.

“I’ve got no doubt that they’ll play better, but we’ll play better – we will play with no fear.

“We’re confident in the game we have and we’re confident in the way we’ve prepared.

“We’re ready to go. Hang on to your seats, because it’s the last dip of the rollercoaster.”

England produced what many critics described as the greatest performance in their history to see off three-time world champions New Zealand 19-7 last Saturday.

  • SA wing Kolbe returns to face England
  • ‘George Ford has moved out of Owen Farrell’s shadow’
  • Wales v New Zealand: Owen Lane to start as one of nine changes
  • Rugby Union Weekly at the World Cup

The form shown by the 10-12 combination of Ford and Farrell and the outstanding displays of Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have persuaded Jones – in his 50th game in charge of the side – to stick with the same XV for the first time all tournament, despite the direct, muscular threat posed by the Springboks.

Jones has the highest winning percentage of any coach to take charge of England, and a second World Cup triumph, 16 years after Sir Clive Woodward’s team took the first, would be the ultimate valediction for his four sometimes controversial years in charge.

He said: “That was always our aim, to be here on 2 November in the Yokohama Stadium.

“So we’ve achieved one goal, but we know what’s at stake in the final, and we’re well prepared.

“South Africa are a different proposition – they’re much more physical, they come through you at the front door, whereas New Zealand it’s the front door and back door.

“We have to make adjustments, but we’re ready for the brutality of the game.

“Our players have had the will to prepare. They’ve pushed themselves through some tough physical tasks.

“They’ve worked hard to get the right tactical game and they’ve worked hard to build the bonds between them.”

Despite the youth of 21-year-old Curry and 23-year-old Underhill in the back row, this is an experienced England side, with a total of 731 caps in the starting XV.


Back-row pair Sam Underhill (14) and Tom Curry (18) have just 32 caps between them

And on Thursday those players were in relaxed mood despite the biggest game of their lives being just 48 hours away.

Jones invited his entire 31-man squad and the English media together for morning coffee before the players were given time with their families and parents to go out around Shinjuku for lunch.

On Friday they will go through one last light training run at Yokohama Stadium before returning to their hotel in central Tokyo and a team meeting led by skipper Farrell.

It will be Jones’ own third World Cup final after his Wallabies side were beaten by England in 2003 and the Springbok team he was helping to advise saw off England in Paris four years later.

He said: “I’ll be looking back at the lessons of 2003 and 2007, and even 2011.

“You can never take anything for granted. You have to go out there and take the game.

“You might be favourites, but you have to go out there and win the game, and that’s our approach on Saturday.

“I’m anxious, nervous, excited. It’s always a blend of the two emotions. I’m sure South Africa are sitting in their hotel thinking the same way.”

England team to play South Africa: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Ben Spencer, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph

Who makes the cut from both finalists?