Mariette Adams and Dylan Jack debate whether England or the Springboks will win the 2019 World Cup final.
Adams says Springboks:
Bok fever has gripped the nation. Everyone is talking about the World Cup final and hoping the Springboks win the Webb Ellis Cup.
Well, not exactly everyone. On Monday, a Cape Town-based Englishwoman called in to a local radio station saying she hopes England come out as victors. And the reason for her wish is: ‘With everything going on back home, Brexit and all that, it would lift the nation’s spirits.’
South Africans know all about needing a boost to lift our spirits or just something to cheer about. Not least because of the Proteas and Bafana’s disastrous performances on the international stage, the continuing threat of darkness looming due to load shedding and several other national problems and/or touchy subjects that I don’t care to list now.
Everyday, South Africans are bickering and poking at each, but the Springboks – after their own awful struggles in recent history – have somehow managed to provisionally unite a broken and sad nation. Flags are flying high on rooftops, tannies are baking Springbok-themed milk tarts, Springbok-themed songs have been composed and well wishes are streaming in for inspirational captain Siya Kolisi and his team.
South Africans are in unison. It’s beautiful to witness and it will be even better if Kolisi goes on to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup.
England are highly favoured to claim a second World Cup title and deservedly so. Any team that could dismantle the All Blacks so comprehensively ought to be favoured. Eddie Jones have turned England into a tactically astute, physically abrasive unit, with a low error rate, that zones in on the opposition’s mistakes.
However, they are not averse to playing expansively when the opportunity arises and that variation in play could be problematic for South Africa.
That said, it’s not like this England side are without weaknesses. If put under pressure, their discipline wanes easily – especially that of captain Owen Farrell and prop Kyle Sinckler, who is a known hot-head. And with George Ford at No 10, that flyhalf channel could be vulnerable defensively. If the Bok centres run at him, like Damian de Allende did against Wales’ Dan Biggar in the semi-final, South Africa will create plenty of attacking opportunities and it will just be a matter of converting those chances into points.
A prominent English pundit has come out and said – based on their respective semi-final displays – all England have to do is show up at the stadium because the title is virtually theirs.
Rassie Erasmus’ squad has the ability to compete with and take down this England team. Key players such as Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk just have to reduce their error count and the pack has to win the battle up front.
I want Kolisi and Co to rewrite that script and come up with a plot twist so dramatic that no one would ever dare to write off a Springbok side as they are being written off now … not even if they are the underdogs.
Jack says England:
This is very much a head-over-heart decision. If I am to speak as a biased South African, rather than an objective journalist for a second, I would love nothing more than to see Siya Kolisi lift the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday.
England are undeniably the favourites going into Saturday’s clash, though. With Eddie Jones at the helm, who has been ably assisted by the excellent John Mitchell since last year, England have a brains trust that outthought one of the best coaches in the world in Steve Hansen.
Responsible for organising England’s defensive structures, Mitchell has turned the team around from their flaky displays in South Africa last year. England are now steeled in defence and should they race into a lead as they did against the Boks in 2018, Rassie Erasmus’ charges will find it far more difficult to find their way back into the match.
England may not always play the most exciting rugby, but they boast a forward pack that can more than match the Boks and a backline – with playmakers in Owen Farrell and George Ford – who hardly make an error. Farrell and Ford controlled the game excellently against New Zealand and pinned the All Blacks back with a number of excellently executed kicks.
Simply put, it does not look like this England has too many weaknesses. Any that they do have are well covered by Mitchell’s defensive system. As much as my heart would love to see Kolisi and the Boks write their own piece of history, my head just cannot go beyond an England win this weekend.
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