YOKOHAMA (Reuters) - England and South Africa will take to the field with their teams as announced in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama (0900GMT).
England are unchanged from their superb semi-final victory over New Zealand, while the Springboks have recalled high-speed winger Cheslin Kolbe in the only change from their semi-final win over Wales.
In a repeat of the 2007 final, won by the Springboks, England start favourites on the back of their demolition job on New Zealand a week ago.
Can they repeat it, to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time, or will South Africa be able to muzzle them, just as they did Japan and Wales in the previous rounds, and take a third title?
“Let’s see the first 10 minutes, it should determine a lot,” South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said as the clock ticked down to kickoff.
Fans clad in team colours - and a bewildering selection of fancy dress - had mixed happily together all afternoon and then advanced on the stadium, with the odd red and white Japanese shirt adding a splash of variation to the dark green and white of the protagonists.
“I say 18-15 to South Africa. It will be because of the forwards, we are a lot stronger than them. We’ll suck them in,” Springbok fan Ernest told Reuters.
England supporter Jamie took a different view, saying: “England play the better rugby, South Africa play boring, military-style, vicious rugby. We play the aesthetically pleasing run-around rugby, so we deserve to win and we will.”
The other hot topics of conversation were tickets and travel - how much and what last-minute arrangements were made to get here.
After touts had been quoting 2,000 pounds through the week, the bottom fell out of the market on match day, with dozens of fans offering tickets at face value or even less.
“One minute I was planning a ‘watch-the-rugby breakfast’ at my local club in London and the next I’m going straight from the airport and watching New Zealand v Wales in an Irish bar last night - I didn’t even go to the hotel on the way,” said England fan Matt - clad in an immaculate Crusader outfit, complete with inflatable shield.
Prince Harry, patron of the Rugby Football Union, will also attend the match, carrying a message of good luck from the Queen.
“Your performances during the tournament have delighted supporters and inspired many people throughout the country,” said the message, published on the Royal Family’s twitter account.
“I send my congratulations to the England team, management and support staff on reaching the final, together with my very best wishes for a memorable and successful match.”
Editing by Tony Lawrence