Eddie Jones conceded England may have been suffering a hangover from their stunning Rugby World Cup triumph over New Zealand as they slumped to a lacklustre defeat in the final.

South Africa were underdogs in Yokohama on Saturday but emerged as dominant 32-12 winners against an England side who had comfortably seen off the All Blacks in the semi-final.

Wales coach Warren Gatland, whose team were beaten 19-16 by the Springboks in their last-four meeting, had sounded a warning to England when he suggested they may have peaked too soon in that win over the reigning champions.

And Jones was not able to dismiss that notion as he gathered his thoughts after a chastening loss in Japan.

"That could be a factor, I'm not sure," he said. "I don't know why we didn't play well and this is one of those things that happens in high-level rugby.

"We thought our preparation was good, but at the end of the day it wasn't, because we didn't play well.

"You can have the most investigative debrief of your game and you still don't know what was wrong.

"It's not a good day for it to happen, we're going to be kicking stones now for four years and it's hard to kick stones for four years, so we're massively disappointed, but at the same time I've got great admiration for what the players did.

"I can't tell you how much respect I've got for how hard they've worked, how well they've played. We came up short, but it's not because of a lack of effort."

Jones was pressed on how England's efforts at the tournament should be remembered and, while he admitted they had come up short of their ultimate goal, he was looking forward to drowning his sorrows with his players over the coming days.

"We are the second best team in the world," he said. "We didn't meet our goal, our goal was to be the best team in the world, but we are the second best team in the world, so I think that's how we should be remembered.

"The only thing we are worried about now is having a few beers and after we've had a few beers today, we'll probably have a few more tomorrow and then probably Monday and then probably we'll have to pull up stumps."

Handre Pollard hopes the exploits of South Africa's Rugby World Cup stars can spread a message of hope and unity in their homeland.

Fly-half Pollard, man of the match in the semi-final win against Wales, was again in supreme form from the kicking tee – booting 22 points in a resounding 32-12 final win over England in Yokohama.

Siya Kolisi, as South Africa's first black captain, lifted the trophy in a moment of deep symbolic significant for a nation that poignantly emerged from the ravages of apartheid with their first World Cup win in 1995.

Francois Pienaar was the toast of the nation on that occasion, but Pollard explained how Kolisi - who hails from the Zwide township just north of Port Elizabeth - leading a third triumphant World Cup campaign was a moment of huge significance.

"You can't actually put it into words and only South Africans will really understand what it means to us as a country going forward," he told ITV.

"It's a truly historic day for us. Yes, we won the Rugby World Cup, which is great for us as players and the management. We'll remember that for ever.

"But the magnitude of what happened today for our country it truly something special.

"[I hope it represents] just unity. It's a diverse group, lots of different cultures. We've got five languages in our side.

"We got together and had one vision. This is what you can do if you all work together and stand together.

"Hopefully we can take this message home, where it's not always going great, but hopefully we can give the people of South Africa hope."

Tries in the final 15 minutes from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe added deserved gloss to a win underpinned by South Africa's formidable forward power.

"We believe in the way we play. We've played that same style of play for two years now," Pollard added.

"We execute it well and when our forwards pitch up physically the way they did tonight… it was unbelievable. It was a massive effort from the boys."

Man of the match Duane Vermeulen revealed South Africa targeted England flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill during their dominant 32-12 Rugby World Cup final win.

Number eight Vermeulen was the standout performer in a superlative Springbok pack, whose impressive work at the breakdown allayed with set-piece dominance laid the foundations for victory.

Curry and Underhill – 21 and 23 respectively – have been two of the breakout stars of the tournament and Vermeulen was determined to stop them from having any more joy.

"We knew England had two fantastic young fetchers in Underhill and Curry - they've been superb this whole tournament," he said.

"We knew we had to do something at the breakdown. We got a few turnovers, they got a few and it's fantastic to walk away with this win."

South Africa's superiority at the scrum was frequently compounded by Handre Pollard's unerring boot, with Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe adding gloss to the scoreline with tries inside the final quarter of an hour.

"We've got a good bunch of forwards – the starters, the 'Bomb Squad' as they're known, they've made a fantastic impact off the bench," Vermeulen said.

"They laid a fantastic platform for the guys and you get the advantage in penalties."

Mapimpi and captain Siya Kolisi hail from South Africa's townships and Vermeulen was keen to highlight the symbolic significance of this team for the Rainbow Nation.

"We're doing it for each other but we're also doing it for 57 million people back home in South Africa," he added.

"We wanted to be consistent as a team and try to achieve something – in a way, trying to create hope. Hopefully we achieved that goal."

George Ford cited England's first-half inaccuracy as a key factor in their Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa.

A week on from producing one of the great Test displays to beat defending champions New Zealand 19-7, Eddie Jones' men failed to hit anything like the same heights, with the Springboks' immense physicality proving decisive.

Fly-half Ford was replaced by Henry Slade early in the second half as England went down 32-12, late tries for Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe sealing a record-equalling third title for South Africa after Handre Pollard had kicked six penalties.

"We were massively inaccurate first half when we had the ball, [and] couldn't build any pressure," Ford told ITV Sport.

"South Africa got us into that game which they're very good at, so it's very, very disappointing from us and it's a hard one to take."

England's forwards struggled to match their South African counterparts, but Ford was keen to highlight his pack's efforts throughout the tournament.

"You always want to get on the front foot. I can't fault our lads up front - they've been unbelievable all tournament," he said. "South Africa just got one over us today and it's one we have to take on the chin.

"It's so tough when they get a bit of a lead like that. They keep kicking the threes and you have to chase the game.

"Congratulations to them - they executed their game plan brilliantly."

Eddie Jones said England were simply not good enough and had been beaten by the better side after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup with a dominant 32-12 victory.

Handre Pollard booted 22 points, while tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe gave the Springboks breathing space as they lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a record-equalling third time.

England were overpowered by Rassie Erasmus' ferocious side in Yokohama on Saturday after suffering the early blow of losing prop Kyle Sinckler due to concussion.

Four penalties from Owen Farrell kept England in touch, but they were second best from the start and head coach Jones admitted they had fallen short.

"We just struggled to get in the game. The effort of the players was outstanding but we struggled to get on the front foot." said the Australian.

"I can't fault the preparation of the players, they've worked hard the entire World Cup and I think they've played with a lot of pride and passion.

"We just weren't good enough today and congratulations to South Africa on an outstanding performance."

Captain Farrell feels England made great strides in Japan despite the agony of missing out on being crowned world champions for a second time.

"We didn't start it [the game] well. We probably had a disappointing first half, but I'm proud of this group, I'm proud of what we've done, how far we've come over the course of this tournament." the skipper said.

"It showed with the fight that we had in the second half, but credit to South Africa, they were very good today."

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus spoke of his pride after his players sealed the country's third Rugby World Cup with a stunning victory over England.

England came into Saturday's final in Yokohama as favourites after accounting for defending champions New Zealand in the last four, while the Springboks had edged past Wales.

But South Africa controlled the showpiece in an emphatic 32-12 victory, with Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe scoring the only two tries of the match and Handre Pollard adding 22 points with the boot.

Duane Vermeulen inspired South Africa with a man-of-the-match performance and Erasmus felt his team's cohesion proved decisive in a year that also saw them win the Rugby Championship.

"I'm so proud of them, we fought hard until the end," Erasmus said after the match.

"I just think the boys believed in themselves, we are a bunch of guys who have been together for 19 weeks and we know one another really well. 

"We have got so much respect for England and we really prepared well. I think we were also a little bit fortunate but we are really enjoying it at this stage.

"To the Springboks supporters I would like to say we never felt alone here in Japan, we felt them all the way. 

"Not just the supporters here in Japan, but also those back home – all the messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, the Twitter feeds. We know there are millions there, we know they support us.

"We love them. We can't wait to get back home."

South Africa are the first team to win the World Cup having lost a pool game, reeling off six straight victories after dropping their opening match to New Zealand.

Erasmus, who assumed head coach duties in March 2018, is stepping down from that role after the tournament but continuing as director of rugby. 

He was asked what he had identified as key priorities to get the Springboks back to the top when he first took charge of the team.

Erasmus said: "Just use our players and the intelligence, all the resources and supporters we have in South Africa. 

"There are so many good things we have in South Africa. In the past we always seemed to look at all the bad things.

"We just decided, 'Listen let's stand together and work really hard and play well on the field and all the other things from that will come out later'. 

"I think that's what we did and eventually now we have won the World Cup, so that's great."

Siya Kolisi believes South Africa's Rugby World Cup final victory over England shows the country can "achieve anything if we work together as one".

The Springboks overpowered England in Yokohama to secure a 32-12 triumph, second-half tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe sealing an emphatic win after six Handre Pollard penalties.

As a result, 24 years after Francois Pienaar accepted the Webb Ellis Cup from Nelson Mandela in one of sport's most iconic moments, there was another inspirational scene as Kolisi - South Africa's first black captain - lifted the same trophy.

In a stirring post-match interview, Kolisi said he hoped South Africa's success could inspire people throughout the nation.

"The people of South Africa have got behind us and we are so grateful to the people of South Africa," said Kolisi, who grew up in poverty and watched the Boks' 2007 World Cup win in a township tavern.

"We have so many problems in our country, but to have a team like this, we come from different backgrounds, different races and we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it. I really hope we've done that for South Africa, to show that we can pull together if we want to and achieve something.

"Since I've been alive, I've never seen South Africa like this. Obviously in '95, what the World Cup did for us [was special], and now with all the challenges we are having, the coach [Rassie Erasmus] just came and told us [after] the last game, 'we're not playing for ourselves any more, we're playing for our people back home'.

"That's what we wanted to do today and we really appreciate all the support, people in the taverns, people in the farms, homeless people, there were screens there, and people in rural areas, thank you so much.

"We appreciate all the support, we love you South Africa and we can achieve anything if we work together as one."

South Africa made history on Saturday after beating England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks had already lifted one trophy this year after winning the Rugby Championship in August, and, in Yokohama, Rassie Erasmus' team achieved something that had 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 had subsequently failed to also deliver success on the global stage.

South Africa succeeded where these teams failed...
 

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.

Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe kicked England when they were down and Handre Pollard scored 22 points as magnificent South Africa won the Rugby World Cup final with a 32-12 victory.

The Springboks overpowered the favourites at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday to match the mark of three World Cup wins by New Zealand.

South Africa dominated the set-piece in a brutal and relentless performance, with England unable to get going after suffering an early blow when Kyle Sinckler departed with concussion.

Pollard produced a masterclass from the tee, while Mapimpi and Kolbe crossed in the second half as South Africa became the first team to be crowned Southern Hemisphere and world champions in the same year.

Four Owen Farrell penalties were all England could muster as South Africa defended magnificently, enabling Siya Kolisi to become the first black captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

Kieran Read's international career came to an end on Friday, as the New Zealand captain led the All Blacks to a 40-17 triumph over Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.

Having announced his decision to retire from Test rugby in March, Read would have been hoping to go out on a high by taking his side to an unprecedented third successive World Cup triumph.

However, a semi-final defeat at the hands of England – who will face South Africa for the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday – meant Read had to settle for third place on his swansong.

Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at some of the best facts from a glittering career.

127 - Read's 127 caps for the All Blacks place him third in New Zealand history. His predecessor as captain, Richie McCaw, tops the list on 148.

52 - Read played 52 of his Tests as skipper and was the 66th captain of the side. Only McCaw (110) made more appearances as captain of the All Blacks.

148 - New Zealand's skipper has made 148 carries in World Cups, the eighth-most of any player in the tournament’s history. Fifty of those carries came in the 2019 tournament.

5 - Read (107 wins) is one of only five players to win 100 Test matches, along with fellow All Blacks McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Sam Whitelock.

19 - His run of 19 consecutive victories as All Blacks captain from 2012 to 2016 is a record.

26 - McCaw is the only forward from a tier-one nation to have scored more international tries than Read, shading it by 27 to 26.

157 - Read has made 157 tackles in World Cup action, the sixth-most of any player in the tournament's history.

69 - His tally of 69 tackles during New Zealand's 2019 World Cup campaign was the most of any All Blacks player. He also made 20 during his final appearance against Wales - his previous best in a World Cup game was 14 against Ireland in the quarter-finals.

6 - With six assists, Read has set up more tries than any other forward in World Cups, while he also scored three tries of his own in his appearances at the global tournament.

Iain Balshaw says England are yet to peak as they prepare to do battle with South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' side dethroned New Zealand with a magnificent performance at International Stadium Yokohama last weekend, setting up a showdown with the Springboks seven days later.

The Red Rose are favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time after dominating the two-time defending champions.

Balshaw, part of the squad for England's only World Cup triumph in Australia 16 years ago, believes there is more to come from the current crop ahead of the biggest game of their lives.

He told Omnisport: "I'm not sure exactly what the average age of the England squad is, but I'd guess around 27, and the majority are coming into their prime.

"We've seen young players like Sam Underhill and Tom Curry come in and be outstanding and they have years ahead of them, they will only get better.

"I think these are such exciting times for English rugby, not only looking at the players who are out in Japan, but also those who did not make the squad and the strength in depth there is.

"There is great talent in the Premiership and academies, the game really is in great shape in England."

Balshaw said England must match the Springboks' physicality and be prepared to mix up their game if they are to emulate the class of 2003.

The jet-heeled former back added: "You've got to meet fire with fire. You have to be prepared for that big first collision and make sure you execute the plans that have been put in place.

"England have done that really well so far, they have been so well drilled and been expansive, but if they need to win playing boring rugby, then so be it. When you get into a final, winning is all that matters."

Phil Vickery says England must come out all guns blazing to prevent South Africa's 'Bomb Squad' from detonating their dreams of lifting the Rugby World Cup.

England are favourites to be crowned champions for a second time in Yokohama on Saturday after dethroning New Zealand with one of the great World Cup performances last weekend.

Eddie Jones' side can expect a massive battle against the ferocious Rugby Championship holders, who have the strength in depth to be able to bring fearsome forwards - christened the 'Bomb Squad' - off the bench.

Vickery, a World Cup winner 16 years ago before captaining his country in a defeat to South Africa in the 2007 final, warned England must use their full artillery and execute plans to perfection to ensure it is mission accomplished.

The former skipper told Omnisport: "South Africa are not going to do anything that England won't be expecting from them. They are going to be ultra-physical and confrontational, it's going to be a massive battle. 

"England are capable of winning that battle, no doubt about it, but if you'd have given me £100 before the tournament to back a winner, I would have put it on South Africa. It can't really come as a surprise they are in the final, they are the champions of the Southern Hemisphere. 

"Yes, they may not be playing spectacular rugby, but they are playing winning rugby and that is all that matters in a World Cup.

"England have the firepower, we have seen that in their incredible win over the All Blacks, but so do South Africa.

"We have to take them on physically, there is no avoiding that, but it is important we move them around and try to break the game up. Opportunities will come if they can do that and keep their discipline. 

"If England can go out and play with the same intensity they did against the All Blacks, that will be hard for any team to live with."

Vickery believes England's big-game experience should ensure they can handle the pressure and the former prop urged them to grasp an opportunity that can change their lives forever.

"There are guys who have played in Grand Slam deciders, a Lions Test series, European finals, et cetera. They know all about how to handle the big occasion." he added.

"The lovely thing they have ahead of them is a life-changing opportunity. Their names can be forever etched in history if they can win on Saturday. 

"They will have millions of people who are with them for every collision, every lineout, every scrum - looking back, it's amazing to think you are involved in something like that and I'm excited for them."

Steve Hansen lauded the leadership of Kieran Read after New Zealand sent their outgoing coach and captain on their way with a 40-17 demolition of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.

The All Blacks showed little mercy as they responded to their semi-final defeat to England in style on Friday, dispatching Warren Gatland's Six Nations champions with ease to claim third place.

Ben Smith – also playing in his final Test – starred with two tries as the deposed world champions cruised in Tokyo.

Read, as he has throughout his glorious spell as captaincy, led the charge and Hansen, who has won 93 of his 107 Tests as All Blacks coach, singled out the 34-year-old as being the key factor in New Zealand's impressive response.

"Reado led really, really well this week. He's a great leader but I think this week, he needs to take a bow because he was hurting probably more than most," Hansen told a news conference.

"We saw that earlier in the week, but he put his own personal feelings to the side and knew this team had to get up.

"You sit there and see the performance they put in and you can be nothing but proud of it and I'm sure there are lots of New Zealanders and All Blacks fans all over the world that will be proud of what they did today."

Read insisted he was always going to savour his final appearance in the famous black jersey, even though New Zealand's failure to win an unprecedented third successive World Cup means the end to his international career is a bittersweet one.

"It's been a great day. I've tried to really make sure I stay in the moment and enjoy this day," said Read, who will continue his career in Japan with Toyota Verblitz.

"My emotions at the start of the week, I was able to get them all out of there, so today was about the process, trying to play well and soak it up and enjoy the occasion.

"I just love playing with this team and for my family to come out there at the end and share this special moment, it was great and I'll hold these memories for a long time.

"I look back at this World Cup and it'll take me a little bit of time to get over, but in the end I'll come back with some fond memories and remember today."

Warren Gatland said it would break his heart if Wales go "back into the doldrums" after his long reign ended with a 40-17 defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

Gatland will return to his native New Zealand to take charge of the Chiefs after spending 12 years as head coach of the Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

But it was the All Blacks who gave their own outgoing head coach, Steve Hansen, a victory in his final match at the helm in the third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Gatland departs as Wales' greatest coach, and the British and Irish Lions boss is desperate for his replacement Wayne Pivac to be successful in a new era.

Asked about his emotions during his Wales swansong, Gatland said: "It's something I'd prepared myself for and then you start thinking about the next challenges in life.

"I really hope, for what we have achieved in the last 10 or 12 years, we have earned respect and put some respect back into Wales as an international team and the new coaches come in and continue to build on that.

"Because I think, [with] what we've achieved, it would break my heart if Wales went back into the doldrums."

He added: "There is an opportunity for the new group to come in and build on what we've created and improve on that.

"You know how tough it is to win a Six Nations. It's not to be greedy and expect to win it every year, but it's going and performing well in the Six Nations and continuing to get a few Six Nations titles along the way and make sure we are as competitive as we can be against the other top nations.

"I think we have been, and I want Wales to continue to build on that."

Gatland felt the challenge of facing the All Blacks just five days after a semi-final loss to South Africa was a lot to ask for his injury-hit squad.

"It was obvious to me, just watching the first half, that five-day turnaround after having played South Africa - and losing four players in that game - some players definitely struggled with the quick turnaround." said the 56-year-old.

"But I thought the bench gave us impetus when they came on, it was good and I'm pleased with that. But no complaints about the result, I thought the All Blacks deserved to win."

Steve Hansen was left to rue "one bad day" but expressed his pride after his New Zealand reign ended with a 40-17 drubbing of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

The All Blacks scored six tries in an entertaining third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday after a week of licking their wounds following a semi-final defeat to England.

Ben Smith claimed a first-half double and had another try ruled out in his final Test, while Ryan Crotty likewise touched down in his New Zealand swansong.

Captain Kieran Read was also among several All Blacks playing their last internationals at the end of Hansen's glorious reign, and the head coach was impressed with the character shown by his side six days after they were dethroned.

"It was just important we came back and honoured the jersey and our fans and get over the disappointment of last week." said Hansen, who has spent 15 years on the New Zealand coaching staff.

"It was a tough old game for both sides and I want to congratulate Wales because they'll be feeling a little bad at the moment.

"All tournament, we've had great defence and played pretty good footy all the way through. One bad day, you lose a game and you miss out, that is what knockout football is about. But I'm really proud of the boys today."

Man of the match Brodie Retallick said the two-time defending champions were desperate to sign off by showing what they are capable of.

"After last week, we wanted to come back and put on a performance we could be proud of and, for all of our supporters, we're thankful to come out with the win." said the lock.

"We had to use that as motivation to come and do what we did tonight. It took a great effort and I'm really proud of what we did tonight."

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