Rugby World Cup finalists South Africa and England are represented in nominations for World Rugby's Player of the Year award.

With the shortlists for the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year awards having been announced on Thursday, World Rugby revealed the six nominees for the individual men's award on Friday.

South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe – who has overcome an injury to feature in Rassie Erasmus' line-up for Saturday's final – are the two Springboks up for the accolade.

Tom Curry is England's sole representative, with the 21-year-old having started in 13 of 14 Tests for Eddie Jones' side this year.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones – his country's most-capped player – is also included, as is New Zealand star Ardie Savea.

The final spot is taken by Joe Taufete'e of the United States, who became the most prolific try scorer in front-row history when he went over for a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Ireland's Johnny Sexton won the 2018 award, having ended Beauden Barrett's two-year spell as the world's best player.

Like the Coach and Team of the Year awards, the winner of the Player of the Year accolade will be confirmed on Sunday in Tokyo.

James Vince hopes his half-century in England's seven-wicket win over New Zealand on Friday boosted his case for inclusion at next year's Twenty20 World Cup.

England won the first T20 game of their five-match series with the Black Caps in Christchurch in what was a repeat of July's Cricket World Cup final, though there was an absence of drama this time as the tourists chased down 154 with nine balls to spare.

After New Zealand had made 153-5, Vince, who was part of that triumphant England ODI squad but only featured in three games when Jason Roy was injured, top-scored for England with a 38-ball 59 as he shared a 54-run partnership with captain Eoin Morgan (34 not out).

With Roy, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes among those rested for this series, Vince is keen to grasp his chance as England build towards the T20 World Cup in Australia.

"I'm happy with the contribution and it's great to get off to a winning start as a team," he told BBC TMS.

"I managed to time it well and build a partnership with Bluey [Jonny Bairstow], then got another going with Morgs [Morgan].

"You always feel confident of chasing a total like that. It was a good pitch. It was a solid performance all round. There were not many outstanding performances but a solid display.

"There are some world-class players here, but it gives me and some other guys a great chance to stake a claim with the World Cup next year.

"I don't think there are many spots up for grabs, so it's going to be a tough one to break into. Hopefully it will be nice to get a run of games."

The hosts, missing the injured Kane Williamson, struggled for fluency with the bat and Daryl Mitchell admitted their below-par total meant they were always up against it.

"We were probably 10 or 15 short to put some pressure on with the ball –160 would have been very tough," Mitchell, who made an unbeaten 30, added.

"The pitch was a bit two-paced. England adapted better than us."

The Rugby World Cup final is upon us. England and South Africa will face off in Yokohama on Saturday, with the winner lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.

Both sides have enjoyed fantastic runs to this stage, with England winning every match they have played at the finals and dominating two-time defending champions New Zealand in the last four.

The Springboks were beaten by the All Blacks in their opening match but have recovered in impressive fashion, closing on a third title.

With the help of Opta data, we look at the key numbers ahead of what promises to be an enthralling final between two worthy winners.
 

2 - England have won back-to-back Tests against South Africa, but their record against the Springboks had previously been nothing to shout about. They managed just one victory in their prior 15 meetings.

33 - Eddie Jones' team will need to be at it from the off on Saturday. South Africa having gone on to win 33 of their 35 World Cup matches in which they have led at the break.

89 - Owen Farrell needs just 11 points to become the second player to reach 100 World Cup points for England after Jonny Wilkinson, who accumulated 277.

0 - South Africa won the previous two World Cup finals they appeared in, but both victories came without either side scoring a try.

1 - If England beat Rassie Erasmus' side, they will become the first team to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a single World Cup campaign.

407 - Springbok Damian de Allende is one of only three players to have played more minutes at this tournament than England duo Elliot Daly and Tom Curry, who have each clocked up 400.

3 - The sides have previously met four times in the World Cup, with South Africa coming out on top in three of those matches. Their most recent World Cup meeting came in the 2007 final, which the Springboks won 15-6.

140 - Handre Pollard has scored more points at a World Cup than any other South Africa player, although he is yet to score a try in the competition.

50 - Siya Kolisi is set to earn his 50th Test cap and his 20th as Springboks captain.

98 - South Africa have the best lineout success rate of any side at this World Cup, having only lost one, which came in their semi-final win over Wales.

4 - This will be England's fourth appearance in the final, a joint record alongside Australia and the All Blacks.

27 - Jonny May needs one more try to equal Jason Robinson on 28 for England, the joint-fifth most for England. He has four in six appearances against the Springboks.

Thursday lunchtime was quiet at the Ekupholeni Cocktail Lounge. The clearing up after Wednesday's Ladies' Night was out of the way. Another busy weekend lay ahead.

The Sunday Soul Session - tickets 70 Rand in advance, R80 on the door, R100 with VIP privileges - was looking like selling out. And on Saturday, just like every Saturday, the venue that first flung open its doors three years ago was guaranteed to be heaving.

"Saturdays are always busy," says Tumla Hani, who works at the bar.

The Ekupholeni sits on Skefile Street in Zwide, a largely down-at-heel black township that sits just north of Port Elizabeth.

This is the district where Siya Kolisi grew up in poverty.

Kolisi is now the captain of South Africa's mighty Springboks.

Their first black captain.

Twenty or so years ago he was an impoverished boy, living with his grandmother, and his favourite toy was a brick. Kolisi's vivid imagination meant he got by.

On Saturday he will lead out the Boks in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan, and win his 50th cap. It will be standing room only in the morning at the Ekupholeni.

 

A favourite son of Zwide

A five-minute brisk walk from the Ekupholeni, past rows of rudimentary single-storey homes, sits Emsengeni Primary School, where Kolisi began his formal education. The Dan Qeqe Stadium, where Kolisi launched his rugby life with the African Bombers under-nines, is a similar trot away in the opposite direction. Qeqe, who died in 2005, campaigned passionately during the apartheid era for non-racial sport.

The Lifa & Mafa Butchery, said to be a favourite 'braai' hangout of Kolisi, is in the same neighbourhood. The Zwide Stadium, where a hastily-hired big screen will show Kolisi as the Boks take on England, is not far away.

Kolisi sought out a local tavern to watch the Boks beat England in the 2007 final, he revealed this week, because there was no television at home.

The Ekupholeni might be welcoming in future Bok leaders on Saturday, but in all probability the crowd will be a recognisable older set, eschewing the outdoor screening to share familiar company.

"We're showing the game on our TVs," says Tumla Hani. "The people come to watch the game. There will be lots here. It will be full here. We're always full here on Saturdays anyway, and it will be special."

She expects the atmosphere to be joyous, as it was when South Africa took down Wales in the semi-finals.

Drinks flowed, and even after emotions had been scrambled by the late drama of that match, there was dancing and delirium.

"The singing as well - did you see that?" Tumla asks.

I did, thanks to a Facebook video, which is why I'm calling. The singing was born of pure joy. An impromptu, refreshed South African choir belting out grand hosannas routinely beats the typical English pub trudge through Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

 

Arriving at a time of change

Kolisi was born on June 16 1991, a day before the apartheid era was officially repealed, and 16 months after Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town after 27 years of incarceration.

Books have been written, and films might follow, about Kolisi's rags-to-riches story.

He tells a story of turning up to Eastern Province junior rugby trials in "silk boxers, because I didn't have shorts". The boy in the strange garb caught the eye, inevitably, and he was soon offered a scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, which includes the great cricketer Graeme Pollock and former England rugby star Mike Catt among its alumni.

Kolisi, who together with over 90% of Zwide's population has Xhosa as a first language, needed to learn English. On the pitch, his rugby would do the talking, but to fit in at Grey - which he now describes as "the English school" - Kolisi had to buckle down and study.

He has gone from having no command to being one of the most eloquent and erudite English speakers in sport.

Kolisi's mother, who gave birth to him at the age of 16, died when he was still a Grey student.

But by then the boy was growing into a warrior of a man, and despite his grief, Kolisi's rugby potential was being fulfilled. He went to Western Province, played for the Baby Boks and eventually graduated to the Stormers.

 

Born to lead his country

A day before turning 22, Kolisi made his Springboks debut against Scotland. At the age of 25 he was made captain of the Stormers, and a year later the same status was bestowed upon him with the national team.

He is married now, to Rachel, with two children, lives as a devout Christian, and enjoys a lifestyle that bears scant comparison to his childhood years.

Bryan Habana, the now-retired wing superstar, has said a Kolisi-led Springboks winning the World Cup might surpass South Africa's 1995 triumph, when President Mandela presented Francois Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup.

Success frequently breeds success, and Kolisi dreams of the day when youngsters from Zwide do not need to leave, as he did, to achieve their potential.

"It'd be so awesome... It's something I think will happen one day," Kolisi said.

His father, Fezakele, is making his first overseas trip to take in the final at first hand.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My dads are on their way  Utata's first overseas trip - what a time to be alive 

A post shared by Rachel Kolisi (@rachel_kolisi) on 

In Zwide, whether enjoying the warm atmosphere of the Ekupholeni or the outdoor big-screen community party, it matters to the townspeople that the Springboks get the job done on Saturday.

But what matters most for now is that Kolisi, the talisman of the team in green and gold, is proudly one of their own.

England and South Africa are tantalisingly close to glory as they prepare to face off in the Rugby World Cup final.

Ahead of Saturday's much-anticipated showdown in Yokohama, we asked Lewis Moody - a World Cup winner with England in 2003 and a losing finalist against the Springboks four years later - to talk us through what it will take to emerge victorious in rugby's biggest game.

Here is the former flanker's guide to securing World Cup success.

 

'HOW DO YOU KEEP THOSE EMOTIONS IN CHECK?' - GETTING THE MINDSET RIGHT

Players from both sides will try to prepare for the contest as if it is any other game, although Moody acknowledges this is "easier said than done".

"Everyone, including the players, knows what's at stake," said Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"The hardest thing is keeping your energy in check so you don't burn yourself out, whether that's through anxiety, nerves or excitement. You can sort of play the game in your head and then your body has emotionally played it already. So you've got to keep that composure and unleash it at the start of the game. 

"You have to figure out what works for you, how do you keep those emotions in check? For me, it was going to the cinema the night before a game, completely switching my brain off from anything rugby-related and just having a laugh.

"All the work has been done, you know all the moves, you're fit. It's just about figuring out what mindset you need to be in to deliver on that day and for me it was about being as relaxed as possible. Each player prepares in a different way - and just allowing them to do what's normal for them is key."

 

'FIGHTING A BATTLE IN YOUR OWN BRAIN' - THE AGONY OF THE FINAL HOURS BEFORE KICK-OFF

If the days leading up to the game are tense, the final hours in the lead-up to kick-off present the toughest mental challenge of all.

"Without doubt the worst part for me was the evening before and then the morning of [the game], because that's when the anxiety [is at its highest]," explained Moody.

"You're in your room, all you're thinking about is preparing for the game. Have you got your kit bag ready? Have you got your tracksuit and everything you're going to be wearing? Is it the right stuff? Have you got a spare pair of boots in case one breaks, a spare gumshield? It's just going through this list of things and then going to sleep and hoping you actually get some.

"You just want that time to disappear; you want to be on the pitch. Your comfort zone is when you've crossed that white line and you're right into the thick of it doing what you know. Up until then you can't control anything and your body is just playing tricks.

"Your mind is trying to maintain all those positive moments, the impacts you want to have, but the other half of your mind is allowing the gremlins to creep in. You don't want to be the person who makes the mistake [that costs your team the game]. So you're fighting a battle in your own brain until you cross that white line. That's when it all relaxes and your body just goes into doing what it does, that muscle memory takes over and life becomes simple."
 

'ULTIMATELY IT WILL COME DOWN TO DISCIPLINE'

Amid heightened emotions, maintaining discipline looks sure to be vital, while Moody also feels much will depend on whether South Africa can deny England quick ball at the breakdown.

"Ultimately it will come down to discipline, because it's going to be a tightly fought game," he argued.

"The key for me will be the speed of ball that the forwards can get for the backs and that will come down to the breakdown. New Zealand, for whatever reason, swapped Sam Cane out [in the semi-final] and it meant England had free rein at the breakdown, really. We also had 19 turnovers against the All Blacks, which is an unprecedented number. 

"I think having Tom Curry and Sam Underhill there, who clearly haven't been phased by any of the players they've played against or any of the occasions - if they can boss that breakdown and keep England's momentum going, then that will be decisive.

"They're going to be coming up against some serious units in the South African backline, in [Siya] Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and [Duane] Vermeulen, who will be doing their utmost to impose themselves on that English triumvirate. It will be a fascinating contest and there's no way in my mind South Africa will allow England the same speed of ball and momentum that they gained on Saturday [in their semi-final win over the All Blacks]."

 

'ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TURN UP AND DELIVER IN THOSE 80 MINUTES'

England could hardly have performed better in their last-four victory over defending champions New Zealand, as they mixed a stunning defensive display with a slick and composed attacking performance to secure a 19-7 win.

Yet Moody, a veteran of 74 Tests between 2001 and 2011 including three for the British and Irish Lions, does not feel Eddie Jones' side will necessarily need to deliver the same all-round showing on Saturday. 

"It's not about delivering the same performance. It's about delivering the performance that is necessary to beat this opposition," he said.

"Last weekend it was that type of rugby, this week it might be drop goals, penalties, a hard-fought forward battle. It's about doing what it takes to win the match that's in front of you.

"The reality of a final is its one game, all you have to do is turn up and deliver in those 80 minutes. And that's where it can all change.

"We saw it in 2011. New Zealand were far and away the best side in the world that year and yet they only beat France by one point. All of a sudden the pressure and the anxiety came on. Even in '03 we should have beaten Australia by 15-20 points really with the opportunities we had - it just shows how pressure can get to you some times."

 

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South Africa stand on the brink of making history when they face England in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks have already lifted one trophy this year after winning the Rugby Championship in August, and Rassie Erasmus' team are looking to do something that has eluded rivals New Zealand and Australia in the past.

In the previous five years when there has been both a Rugby Championship – or its previous incarnation the Tri Nations – and a World Cup, the winners of the first tournament have subsequently failed to also deliver success on the global stage.

With South Africa in a position to finally end that sequence, we take a look at those who have previously conquered the Southern Hemisphere only to fall short at the World Cup.

 

1999: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA

The All Blacks won the first two Tri Nations and made it three in four years by thrashing South Africa 28-0, beating Australia 34-15 and claiming another victory over the Springboks.

However, a 28-7 loss to the Wallabies in the final fixture suggested New Zealand were not so invincible...

At the World Cup, the great Jonah Lomu scored eight tries yet France stunned New Zealand 43-31 in the last four, with Australia then winning the final against Les Bleus.

2003: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – ENGLAND

Four wins out of four delivered another Tri Nations triumph for New Zealand.

The All Blacks scored 282 points in their four World Cup pool games in Australia too before easing past South Africa 29-9 in the quarter-finals.

But Elton Flatley's accuracy from the tee consigned New Zealand to another semi-final loss and sent Australia back to the final, where Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in Sydney delivered a famous success for England.

2007: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – SOUTH AFRICA

Neither Australia nor South Africa could deny the All Blacks another Tri Nations title in 2007, though it was a Northern Hemisphere nation who would stop their run at the World Cup.

New Zealand led 13-3 in the first half of their quarter-final against France only to suffer another knockout loss to their World Cup nemesis as Yannick Jauzion scored a brilliant converted try 11 minutes from time to seal a 20-18 success.

Defending champions England beat France in the semi-final but Percy Montgomery won the battle of the boots with Wilkinson in the final as South Africa secured their second World Cup.

2011: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

In the final Tri Nations before Argentina joined to form the Rugby Championship, Graham Henry's team lost their last two matches as Australia triumphed for the first time in a decade.

The World Cup was hosted in New Zealand and after years of being the nearly men, it was the All Blacks' turn to taste global glory again.

France were their final opponents and, in a tense, low-scoring contest, New Zealand won 8-7.

2015: RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

Four years ago, Australia beat the other three nations to win the Rugby Championship, and came out on top of a World Cup pool that included Wales and hosts England.

The Wallabies narrowly saw off Scotland 35-34 and ousted Argentina 29-15 to set up a final with a New Zealand side that had hammered France 62-13 in the last eight.

No team had ever retained the World Cup before but Dan Carter shone on his international farewell to ensure Steve Hansen's side lifted the Webb Ellis Cup again.

England made light work of New Zealand as they won their Twenty20 opener in a rematch of the dramatic Cricket World Cup final.

New Zealand lost a thrilling World Cup decider to England on boundary count-back in July and that heartbreaking defeat was still fresh in the memory of both sides.

However, hosts the Black Caps were unable to exact a form of revenge as England cruised to a seven-wicket victory with nine balls remaining in the opening game of a five-match series in Christchurch on Friday.

James Vince top scored with 59 but captain Eoin Morgan (34 not out) hit the winning runs – a six – to lead England to 153-3, in pursuit of New Zealand's 153-5 target.

Playing without star captain Kane Williamson due to a right hip injury, New Zealand were sent into bat by England at Hagley Park and made a slow start.

England debutant Sam Curran – in the side as the tourists rested many of their World Cup stars ahead of the Test series – struck the first blow, dismissing Martin Guptill (2) in the third over.

Curran was then clubbed for three sixes within four balls by Colin Munro (21) and Tim Seifert (32) as the Black Caps duo tried to spark their team's innings.

However, Chris Jordan (2-28) removed Munro in his first over before Adil Rashid's wicket of Colin de Grandhomme (19) left New Zealand 72-3 in the 11th over.

New Zealand managed to surpass the 150-run mark on a good batting deck, but they lost wickets whenever a promising partnership threatened as Seifert and Ross Taylor (44) – who fell victim to another debutant in Pat Brown (1-33) – departed and Daryl Mitchell finished unbeaten on 30.

England were comfortable in reply as they reached 37 without loss before Dawid Malan (11) succumbed to Mitchell Santner in the sixth over.

Black Caps spinner Santner tried to stop England almost singlehandedly, having claimed all New Zealand's wickets with figures of three for 23 after sending Jonny Bairstow (35) and Vince back to the pavilion.

However, it was another successful day for England against New Zealand following the country's stunning Rugby World Cup semi-final triumph over the All Blacks in Japan last week.

Rassie Erasmus will not continue as South Africa coach after the Rugby World Cup final showdown with England, he has confirmed.

The Springboks - who are hunting their third world title - face Eddie Jones' side in Yokohama on Saturday, after respective semi-final victories over Wales and New Zealand.

Erasmus has been working in the dual role of coach and director of rugby since early 2018, but he suggested in December last year he would step down from the former position following the World Cup.

Despite overseeing a hugely successful year in which South Africa won the Rugby Championship and reached the World Cup final in Japan, Erasmus' stance on his future has not altered.

The 47-year-old is set to continue in his directorial post, however.

"It's probably my last Test match. It is my last Test match of being head coach," Erasmus told reporters on Thursday. "It's an emotional one. I didn't think 25 Tests would go that quickly.

"When I came back from Munster, I thought it would be more about focusing on my family as well as thinking more strategically in terms of helping the schoolboys, helping the sevens, and helping the Bok coach.

"When you become the Bok coach, you become more hands-on, your adrenaline starts pumping and you really become part of it. It's wonderful to be here. It's sad that there are only three days and then it's all over."

Erasmus says his time as coach has given him greater optimism for rugby in South Africa going forwards, as the Springboks bid to become the first team to do the Rugby Championship-World Cup double.

"I will still be heavily involved whatever way we go in terms of the next Bok coach. I must say, just being the coach gave me such hope again for South African rugby," he added.

"Two years ago, everybody was talking about this hope thing, but I was like, 'Let's just focus on the rugby'. I've changed my mind. If we play with passion and people see it, it can help them forget about their problems.

"We have to use this platform. No matter what happens on Saturday, we have to use what we've built to take us forward in the next six or seven years.

"The only failure would be not pitching up and giving it absolutely everything. We said that when we win, people will start supporting us again, talking about us again, helping us with team selections and so on.

"We want that criticism. That's when you know South Africans care again. We knew it would be a process and that we would have to take some risks along the road to get where we wanted to go. We knew that the expectations would grow."

Eddie Jones says England cannot give South Africa the opportunity to play their own game if his side are to triumph in the Rugby World Cup final.

England put in a dominant performance against two-time defending champions New Zealand in the semi-finals, claiming a 19-7 win in Yokohama and progressing to their first World Cup final since 2007.

South Africa were their opponents on that occasion, too, with the Springboks coming out on top 15-6 in Paris.

Rassie Erasmus' South Africa defeated Wales to tee up Saturday's rematch and, while their victory was less convincing than England's against the All Blacks, Jones sees no room for complacency.

The England coach wants his team to seize the initiative early again, having scored with a Manu Tuilagi try after just two minutes to stun New Zealand.

"We just want to go out there and play," Jones told a news conference. "The great thing for us is that we have done the preparation, we know we have done the preparation and we are ready for this occasion.

"We have spent four years getting ready for this occasion. That is why the players can be relaxed, that is why I can be relaxed, because we know we have done the work. We are not relaxed about knowing what is in front of us.

"We know South Africa are going to come hard. They have got a history of being the most physically intimidating team in the world, so we have got to take that away from them.

"The boys know what is ahead of them, everyone knows what is at stake, but because we have had such a good preparation, we can go out there and play without any fear.

"We have got to go out there and make the game, we've got to take the game to South Africa. We can't afford to go in the game and expect South Africa to give us a game.

"So our whole mindset this week is about taking the game to South Africa, playing with no fear, where can we take our game to, what level can we take our game to."

Mako Vunipola will start alongside his brother Billy in an unchanged side for England, and the prop is relishing his chance on the biggest stage.

"I didn't dream of it, not many people get the opportunity to play in a World Cup final," he told Sky Sports.

"Me and Billy are very fortunate we get to share it, with our whole family here as well. Once we get out there, it's just another game. We've got to go out there and do our bit for the team and keep it simple.

"[The team] have spent a long time together now and there's a bond and belief running through the team. We're very confident of what we have in the group but very aware of the challenge ahead."

Rugby World Cup finalists England and South Africa have been joined by New Zealand, Wales and Japan in World Rugby's Team of the Year nominations for 2019.

All four teams who reached the semi-finals of the showpiece tournament in Japan have been rewarded for their efforts, with the respective coaches also up for the Coach of the Year award.

Eddie Jones, Rassie Erasmus, Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland are on the list, along with Jamie Joseph, who guided Japan to their first-ever World Cup knockout stage.

The hosts were eventually defeated by South Africa, with Erasmus then guiding Rugby Championship winners the Springboks to a 19-16 win over Wales, who won the Six Nations Grand Slam under outgoing coach Gatland.

New Zealand and Hansen are both in the running, despite the All Blacks seeing their long reigns both at the top of the rankings and as world champions ended.

Ireland dominated the 2018 awards, winning the Team of the Year accolade as coach Joe Schmidt and player Johnny Sexton were recognised for their individual efforts.

Their failure to advance beyond the World Cup quarter-finals, beaten by New Zealand, means neither the team nor Schmidt are nominated this time.

The 2019 Player of the Year nominations are still to be announced, before the awards are handed out in Tokyo on Sunday.

Earlier in the week, World Rugby announced Joe Cokanasiga (England), Herschel Jantjies (South Africa) and Romain Ntamack (France) are up for the Breakthrough Player of the Year gong.

Rugby World Cup scores from Charles Ollivon (France), TJ Perenara (New Zealand) and Cobus Reinach (South Africa) are bidding alongside Italy captain Sergio Parisse's Test effort for the Try of the Year.

The last time England faced South Africa at a World Cup with a Farrell playing as the designated goal kicker at inside-centre, Andy Farrell only took kick-offs.

In 2007, the defending champions went into a pool-stage encounter at the Stade de France with an injury crisis in midfield. Both Jonny Wilkinson and Olly Barkley were unavailable, thrusting Mike Catt into his first international outing at fly-half for eight years.

Outside him was the Wigan Warriors rugby league great who Saracens, with no little financial help from the Rugby Football Union, had persuaded to switch codes. Injuries and prolonged conjecture over what would prove his best position meant Farrell's transition had been far from smooth.

The knives sharpened further as an abysmal England were crushed 36-0. The experiment had failed. What a waste of money. A gritty, back-to-basics line-up with Farrell consigned to the bench recovered to reach the final and lose a more competitive rematch 15-6.

Twelve years later, the on-going returns might mean the RFU have never spent cash so shrewdly, even if Farrell Jr was obviously not a part of the initial grand plan.

Rugby league royalty

"He was kicking and screaming when we came down here," Andy Farrell told the Daily Mail, when recalling his son Owen's reaction to the family's 2005 move from Wigan to Hertfordshire for the switch to Saracens.

"He didn’t want to leave Wigan because he was playing league. But that lasted about two weeks."

By virtue of his father alone, Owen Farrell's lineage is one of rugby league royalty.

A Wigan regular at 16, a Great Britain international at 18 and captain of his country three years later, Andy Farrell was the loose forward, goal-kicking titan of a Warriors team that won six league titles and four Challenge Cups during his 13 seasons there.

Throw in Owen's rugby apprenticeship at the town's celebrated St Patrick's club and the fact his maternal uncle is current Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin and it is easy to see how tightly those ties seemed to bind.

"We planned for him to go back up north on the train every weekend, to carry on playing league," Andy explained.

"He did that once or twice but then I took him to training at Saracens and he soon forgot what he was missing out on."

Hot-housed talent

Speaking to the Mirror last month, Wilkinson recalled Owen Farrell and his partner in England's creative department George Ford as eager teenagers along for the ride at the 2007 World Cup.

Ford's father Mike was England's defence coach at the tournament having been part of the backroom team at Saracens, essentially plotting a path for Andy Farrell as an esteemed former league player who became a high-end union tactician.

“When you look at the calibre of rugby talent in their fathers it comes as no surprise to me what those two have become," Wilkinson said.

"It is no surprise those guys are exploring stuff that we did not get near until we were much older."

Running to fetch Wilkinson's practice balls was virtually second-nature to Farrell. Watching elite training sessions and joining in wherever and whenever he could was something he had done from infancy.

“Faz brought him down from a really early age – it must have been five or six. He always had a rugby ball in his hands – he was destined to play the game,” former Wigan full-back Kris Radlinski told the Express in 2013.

"The players made it a comfortable environment for him. At the end of training, we would start catching and kicking a ball around with Owen. He became one of the lads."

Playing in tandem, as they will in Saturday's World Cup final, Owen Farrell and George Ford lend England an uncommon flair, one forged in the everyman surrounding of league's heartlands in the north of the country – a long way removed from union's public-school tradition.

Big Faz and Little Faz

Owen and George transferring their league-reared and hot-housed skills gave them an advantage racing through England's age-group teams before becoming the heartbeat of Eddie Jones' seniors.

As Andy Farrell discovered more than a decade ago, making the switch in the autumn years of your career is an altogether different challenge.

"He is getting to grips with it but it is probably a bit too late, with his age, to be where he wants to be," Mike Ford said in the aftermath of his friend's South Africa ordeal in 2007.

An international career effectively finished at the end of the tournament, it might have been tempting to return to the loving bosom of league – see Sam Burgess' understandable decision after England's 2015 World Cup campaign went south with him playing inside-centre and scapegoat.

But, despite speculation sometimes hinting in that direction, Andy Farrell's interest in coaching was already piqued and he had a son making waves in the Saracens academy. This was no time to walk away, something his innate determination might never have allowed in the first place.

By 2008, "Big Faz" and "Little Faz", as they were known at Wigan, were part of the same Premiership first-team squad under Jones. Since retiring in 2009, Andy Farrell has become one of the most respected defence coaches in the sport thank to stints with Saracens, England, the British and Irish Lions, Munster and Ireland. He will replace Joe Schmidt as Ireland's head coach when they return to action after the World Cup.

Owen Farrell has won five Premierships with Sarries, three European titles, starred on his second Lions tour in 2017 and risen to become his country's Mr Dependable and captain across an international career where – for now, at least – a 2016 Six Nations Grand Slam is the highlight in terms of honours.

As ferocious in the tackle as he is metronomic from the kicking tee, Owen has quietly become an inspirational leader in his father's mould. Something outlandish will have to happen in Saturday's final for his smirking stare down of the Haka before England's semi-final evisceration of New Zealand not to be the image of the tournament.

"I was always watching dad lift trophies," Owen Farrell told the Daily Mail in 2013. "That made me want to do what he does."

This weekend, the major prize that eluded his father and one that could not have felt further away on that bleak Paris night against the Springbok will be close to Owen's grasp. A would-be centrepiece in the dynasty building of the Farrells: rugby league and rugby union royalty.

When Rassie Erasmus took over as South Africa head coach just a year and a half before the Rugby World Cup, the former Springbok knew he had taken on a "huge task".

Erasmus already had more than enough on his plate as South Africa's director of rugby, a role with a wide-ranging remit.

The 47-year-old was still getting his feet under the table in that job when Allister Coetzee's turbulent reign as head coach was brought to an end in February 2018.

Erasmus agreed to the challenge of turning around the fortunes of a Springboks side who had won only 11 of Coetzee's 25 games in charge and dropped to sixth in the world rankings.

"It is a huge task to coach the Springboks and I am very privileged," Erasmus said.

"I really believe we have the players and the rugby IP [intellectual property] to turn things around and to mount a serious challenge at next year's Rugby World Cup."

Even the most optimistic fans of the Springboks might have raised eyebrows over such positive comments from the new head coach.

Yet the potential was there to see in a 2-1 home Test series defeat of England, led by Siya Kolisi after he was named as South Africa's first black captain.

A shock defeat of New Zealand followed last September and South Africa dethroned the All Blacks to win the Rugby Championship just a month before facing Steve Hansen's side in their first match of the World Cup.

Although Steve Hansen's two-time defending champions won that World Cup opener at International Stadium Yokohama almost six weeks ago, it is the Springboks who will contest the final with England at the same venue on Saturday.

Cheslin Kolbe has established himself as one of the most lethal wings in the world after being handed a debut last September, while Faf de Klerk is among the recalled players to have thrived under Erasmus after the 30-cap eligibility rule for overseas-based stars was scrapped.

Erasmus has turned South Africa into an uncompromising, well-drilled side, possessing relentless and brutal physicality, with explosive backs and busy scrum-half De Klerk pulling the strings.

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi said: "Rassie has made a massive difference. That difference has not just been to the South Africa team because his decisions have affected the whole nation.

"He is a coach who has an honest opinion about every player and he is not someone who does things behind closed doors but does it openly and everyone knows about it.

"Players have respect for someone who is honest and open and says what he is looking for. It gives you more freedom to go out there and express yourself. He does not put you in a box and that has been one of his outstanding features."

Erasmus will relinquish his head coach duties after the showdown with England this weekend and, regardless of the outcome, he has lifted the gloom and made a proud rugby nation a major force once again.

Cheslin Kolbe will return from an ankle injury for South Africa's Rugby World Cup final against England on Saturday.

Livewire wing Kolbe missed South Africa's semi-final win over Wales due to injury he tweaked in the quarter-final victory against hosts Japan.

However, Kolbe is back in the starting XV for the blockbuster Yokohama showdown in a big boost for 2007 world champions the Springboks.

Kolbe – who missed the pool match against Canada – comes in for stand-in Sbu Noksi as South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus' sole change to his side.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi will earn his 50th Test cap, with South Africa seeking their second World Cup title, having trumped England in the final 12 years ago.

 

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Darren Gough will join the England coaching staff as the tourists prepare for a two-Test series in New Zealand.

The 49-year-old former fast bowler will join the squad in Auckland on November 5 and work with the team for two weeks, as England bid to win a Test series in New Zealand for the first time since 2008.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said Gough will be the team's fast bowling consultant and added that he is a qualified level three cricket coach.

"It is a tremendous honour to be asked by Chris Silverwood and Ashley Giles to be involved in this elite environment," Gough said.

"I very much look forward to working with all the bowlers and helping them improve. I will gain a lot from the experience and to work at this level will benefit me as a coach for the long term. I can't wait to get cracking."

New England coach Silverwood played with Gough at Yorkshire, and said: "I'm delighted to have Darren on board. I have known him a long time and his vast knowledge and experience at international level will drive our bowling unit forward leading into the two-match Test series.

"He will be excellent around the group and will settle in quickly."

England director of cricket Giles also played alongside Gough for the national team.

Gough took 229 wickets in 58 Test matches for England at an average of 28.39. He played 159 one-day internationals too, in which he claimed 235 wickets.

New Zealand will host England in five Twenty20 internationals, starting from November 1, before the Test series begins.

The first Test will be played at Mount Maunganui, beginning on November 20.

Sean Fitzpatrick says he feels sorry for Kieran Read as he prepares to end his New Zealand career in a bronze match rather than chasing a third straight Rugby World Cup title.

All Blacks captain Read looked to be leading his side towards another World Cup triumph until the two-time defending champions met a determined England outfit in the semi-finals.

New Zealand were beaten comfortably by Eddie Jones' inspired team and Read, who previously announced his decision to retire after the tournament, is now bowing out against Wales in a third-place play-off.

Former All Black Fitzpatrick wished the 34-year-old had been able to enjoy a more fitting send-off but insisted he could still only be considered a true great.

"He's been an outstanding All Black captain, a phenomenal player, one of the great number eights in world rugby for many, many years," Fitzpatrick said, speaking courtesy of Laureus.

"He's had a long career. It's his third World Cup. I feel sorry for him that he finished on that note, but he's got another opportunity hopefully this week against Wales.

"He's one of the greats. He loves the All Black jersey and plays with a real passion. I wish him well with whatever he does. He'll go down as one of our great All Blacks."

Coach Steve Hansen will also depart after Friday's meeting with Wales, but Fitzpatrick hopes his staff - including assistant and potential replacement Ian Foster - will not pay the price for the England defeat.

Fitzpatrick believes coaches such as Foster have proven their worth regardless of a one-off loss.

"They'll go through a process [to appoint a coach]," Fitzpatrick said. "They've got people in line obviously already - I'd imagine they've done quite a bit of work on that.

"I don't think the game on Saturday would be a defining factor in saying, if it was going to be [an appointment] from within, we must change that. I don't agree with that.

"Because this group of coaches that are staying on after Hansen goes have done a brilliant job. I'm so proud as a past All Black. The past four-year cycle, they couldn't have done any more.

"They just came up against a team that dominated. I don't think that should have a real bearing on who the next All Blacks coach is."

Fitzpatrick now hopes the pain of losing to England can serve New Zealand well going forward.

"Everyone in that team hasn't experienced that feeling, so it's a big change," he added. "They'll learn from that.

"With how commanding the defeat was to England, although it's not easy to accept, they were better than us. We've got to take it on the chin and move on. We were outplayed and they [the players] know that.

"The way we did it yesterday is not enough to win tomorrow - that's been our philosophy all the way along as All Blacks. Prepare as if you're number two, never think you're good enough. At the moment, we're not number one."

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