Ford at flyhalf as England unchanged for World Cup final

George Ford (Getty Images)
George Ford (Getty Images)

Tokyo - England flyhalf George Ford will start the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa after coach Eddie Jones named an unchanged XV on Thursday.

Owen Farrell started at flyhalf in the quarter-final win over Australia, but moved to inside centre for the stunning 19-7 semi-final victory over reigning champions New Zealand, when Ford resumed the No 10 shirt.

The lone change to England's match-day 23 to face the Springboks in Yokohama on Saturday is on the bench where scrumhalf Ben Spencer, who only arrived in Japan on Monday, replaces the injured Willi Heinz.

Both Farrell, continuing his dual playmaker partnership with childhood friend Ford, and wing Jonny May have been passed fit following dead legs suffered against the All Blacks, while prop Kyle Sinckler has been given the all-clear following a calf injury sustained in the semi-final win.

Spencer's three replacement appearances amount to just over 20 minutes of Test rugby.

"It has been a good week, the players have been together a while now so it's less about the volume of training this week, it's more about sharpening the sword," said Jones, the coach of his native Australia when England beat the Wallabies in the 2003 World Cup final.

While England played plenty of attacking rugby in both the 44-16 win over Australia and against New Zealand, the Springboks ground their way to knockout wins over Japan (26-3) and Wales (16-13).

"South Africa are a difficult opponent and we are going to have to fight really hard to win," added Jones, a consultant to the Springbok side that beat England in the 2007 World Cup final in Paris.

"We know the physical part of the game is going to be important and the players will go into this game well prepared knowing how we want to play.

"We will go and play with no fear," added Jones, who will become only the third England coach to be in charge for 50 Tests on Saturday.

"South Africa will probably play a similar type of game they have played all tournament so we need to be good in the arm-wrestle and when we have the opportunities to break the game up, we are then confident and composed enough to take them," explained Jones, whose 80 percent win rate is the best of any England coach.

Every team that has won the World Cup has done so unbeaten, with England yet to lose a match at Japan.

South Africa, by contrast, lost to New Zealand in their opening pool match.

The Springboks, however, have won both their previous World Cup finals, defeating the All Blacks on home soil in 1995 before beating England 12 years later in France.

This will be England's fourth World Cup final, with the Red Rose brigade losing to Australia at Twickenham in the 1991 showpiece match.

England have won their last two Tests against South Africa, edging out the Springboks 12-11 when the teams last met at Twickenham in November 2018.

South Africa announced their team for the final earlier on Thursday, with the return of fit-again wing Cheslin Kolbe the only change to their starting XV.

Kick-off is at 11:00 SA time.


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn


15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph

loading... Live
Chelsea 0
Liverpool 2
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 7621 votes
11% - 1933 votes
19% - 3479 votes
3% - 454 votes
1% - 163 votes
2% - 434 votes
5% - 889 votes
8% - 1507 votes
3% - 601 votes
Water sports
1% - 164 votes
American sports
1% - 211 votes
3% - 557 votes