Owen Farrell pictured at England rugby training ahead of the big match
England expects. So, for that matter does almost everyone else I have come across here in Tokyo (with the exception of the South African fans and even some of them, it must be said, are starting to wobble).
Eddie Jones’s England team go into the game as clear favourites.
Fortunately, there was not a whiff of complacency, let alone arrogance, as they went through their final paces yesterday. Everyone acknowledged that the South Africans’ forte is their size and their tendency – despite all that ‘Springbok’ branding – to adopt the battle tactics of a rhino.
Sam Underhill, England’s articulate flanker, 23, spoke frankly about this at the last pre-match press conference.
‘It’s all very well being aggressive but the key is to have control of that and still do what you want outside of just being physical,’ he said.
No one was giving anything away, of course. However, there were some endearing tributes from both sides towards the folks back home.
South African captain Siya Kolisi, who grew up in a Port Elizabeth township, spoke of his pride that his father is in Tokyo to watch him on his first trip overseas.
Kolisi was also tickled that his nation’s president had urged the country to honk their horns at 1pm yesterday in a show of solidarity.
England lock George Kruis wanted to pay tribute to those small battalions who will be gathered in all those clubhouses across the country, sinking beery breakfasts this morning.
Former England rugby international James Haskell is pictured with his wife Chloe Madeley today, on the eve before the final
Newlyweds Rosie and Ken Marshall will watch the Rugby World Cup final from their home in Birmingham on Saturday, with Mr Marshall supporting South Africa and his new wife backing England
‘I’d like to thank all the local clubs who’ve done an unbelievable job of getting us here,’ he said.
Among the devoted fans who have broken the bank to spend the whole month-and-a-half-long tournament in Japan are Anne Wheeler and girlfriend Genevieve Moody.
Miss Wheeler, 27, even gave up her job as a teacher in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
‘No school is going to give a teacher six weeks off to watch rugby,’ she said. ‘But when will I get the chance to come out to Japan and do this again?’
Newlyweds Rosie and Ken Marshall will cheer on rival teams after spending their honeymoon travelling around Japan to follow their sides.
Mr Marshall, 37, is originally from Johannesburg and lives with his English bride, 31, in Birmingham.
They will don their respective team shirts at home this morning after returning to the UK last week.
Mr Marshall said: ‘They are the best England team I’ve ever seen. But I’ll always be a South Africa supporter and back the Boks in any match, especially a final.
‘Rosie and I will be happy for the other whatever the result, even if bragging rights will be decided for the next four years.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined in with the final fever, declaring: ‘The whole country is behind you – through every kick, ruck, lineout and maul.
Victoria Anne Wheeler (right) quit her job as a school teacher to make sure she could make the final and watch the world cup build up
England flanker Courtney Lawes (left) is pictured with his wife Jessica in his team shirt as they relax together before the big match. Fly-half Piers Francis (right) had a day out with his pregnant fiance Amanda McClatchie in Tokyo
‘Come on England! Bring the World Cup home.’
As the Mail has been reporting all week, behind each of those titans in an England shirt today, there is usually a touching story of a local club coach or teacher who spotted a plucky child with dreams of becoming the next Jonny Wilkinson.
There was plenty of emotion, too, at last night’s play-off at a packed 50,000-seat Tokyo Stadium between the two losing semi-finalists. Wales went down fighting against the All Blacks in the final send-off for the much-loved coaches of