The 2019 Rugby World Cup will end in Tokyo on Saturday when England and South Africa square off for the game’s biggest prize.
Typically, England do not back up the enormous hype that surrounds their campaign at any Rugby World Cup, but they have been nothing short of outstanding in Japan and deserve their favouritism after comfortably beating reigning world champions and the game’s benchmark, New Zealand. They are undefeated heading into the decider and a repeat of last week’s performance would see them extremely difficult to beat.
Following their first-up loss to the All Blacks, South Africa have continued to improve with each effort and are themselves more than worthy of a position in the decider. A comfortable win over the host nation provided an ideal warm-up for their semi-final clash with a spirited Welsh side and ultimately, the Springboks were too good. There is no doubt that they’ll need to improve from that effort, but they are a side that typically does not feel the pressure of the situation.
As outlined, I think that England deserve favouritism in this match, but I have only a few points between them and there is no doubt that South Africa are over the odds as outsiders.
Friday night will see the playoff for third between New Zealand and Wales and regardless of semi-final results, there remains a large class difference between these two sides.
There is no denying that the All Blacks were found out and beaten by a better side on the night in last weekend’s semi-final, but their campaign has otherwise been strong, and it is extremely difficult imagining them losing two matches in succession.
Several times I’ve had a go at Wales’ legitimacy at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but facts are they went through Pool D undefeated, fought back into the contest and ultimately beat France, before just missing against the Springboks last week. They have overachieved in my opinion, and they face an enormous task in the All Blacks.