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England's players stand on the brink of a sporting bonanza. One more almighty effort will propel them into rugby folklore and bring riches, fame and acclaim far beyond their comprehension.

Out here in Japan, within their protective bubble, it will not have hit them — not yet anyway. Victory over South Africa in the World Cup final at Yokohama Stadium and Eddie Jones' team will reach a realm of glory few Englishmen have attained.

Global conquests in the major team games have been painfully rare for sides from these shores. The England footballers from 1966. The rugby players from 2003. The cricketers who scaled their own ultimate peak in July.

England have the chance to propel themselves into rugby folklore against South Africa

England have the chance to propel themselves into rugby folklore against South Africa

Now Owen Farrell and his team-mates hope to join this elite. But it really will take a giant effort. There has been a lurking sense of English euphoria and triumphalism this week and that is a grave threat.

Once England had completed their epic 19-7 semi-final demolition of the All Blacks last Saturday, Jones and his players were at pains to play down the magnitude of their achievement and insist that their focus would not be affected by the commotion the result would cause. It must be hoped that they have managed to block out the exterior noise, because there has been a lot of it.

Saturday's showpiece is no formality. England may be clear favourites but they will hope no one jinxes them by prematurely tying red and white ribbons to the Webb Ellis Cup. This fixture pits the world's top two ranked teams against each other. Jones' men are top of the pile, with Rassie Erasmus' Boks right behind them. This is a fitting final and a seismic contest.

Flanker Maro Itoje will be key for England on Saturday as he targets the Springbok breakdown

Flanker Maro Itoje will be key for England on Saturday as he targets the Springbok breakdown

It will take a southern eclipse for England to succeed in their quest. In consecutive matches at this tournament, they have swept aside Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Now South Africa stand in their path, bracing for the impact. The Sweet Chariot will take some stopping, but do not expect a procession. The ticker-tape parade doesn't start on Saturday. This will be a title decider of primal intensity.

What is remarkable to consider is where both these teams have come from. It has been a tale of rapid revival on both sides. When they played a three-Test series in South Africa in June last year, they were both in a state of flux — perhaps even a state of crisis.

During that trip, England's losing run extended to six games, five of them Tests. Jones found himself under pressure for the first time since being hired by the RFU. And Erasmus was trying to instigate a Springbok salvage operation after taking charge as an emergency measure, following a steep decline which included a 57-0 mauling at the hands of the All Blacks the previous September.

How times have changed. Erasmus brought back South African exiles, appointed a new captain in the inspirational shape of Siya Kolisi, resurrected the lost heritage of forward power and transformed his country's fortunes.

Eddie Jones has helped England bounce back from World Cup heartbreak in 2011 and 2015

Eddie Jones has helped England bounce back from World Cup heartbreak in 2011 and 2015

England broadened their repertoire with the addition of attack coach Scott Wisemantel, then enhanced their defensive and breakdown work by bringing in John Mitchell, the former head coach of the All Blacks. Veterans were moved on. The team was refreshed.

From a shared launch pad, these two superpower rugby nations have re-emerged. The Boks lost by a point to England at Twickenham last November but in 2019 their solitary defeat came in their World Cup opener against New Zealand. Since then, they have surged through routine pool-stage wins and used their immense force to batter hosts Japan and Wales into submission in the knockout rounds.

Meanwhile, England have been imperious, posting emphatic victories over Tonga and the USA before

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