In Brief

Rugby World Cup: England coach Eddie Jones issues final rallying cry

England’s rugby players can put a smile back on the face of the country

England vs. South Africa 

  • What: 2019 Rugby World Cup final 
  • When: Saturday 2 November  
  • Where: International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan 
  • Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
  • UK start time: 9am  
  • UK TV coverage: live on ITV 

England’s rugby players have the chance to do what no politician has done in a very long time - and that’s put a smile on the face of the nation.

The last few years haven’t been much fun for the country with Brexit dominating headlines and dividing opinion, but on Saturday the England squad will unite the country around their television sets as they play South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.

ITV, which clocked ten million viewers for last weekend’s semi-final triumph against New Zealand, is expecting double that number for the final, despite the 9am kick-off.

Boris will do a Blair

If England do lift the Webb Ellis Cup the players can expect an open-top bus tour. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is as media savvy as Tony Blair, who occupied No.10 Downing Street in 2003 when England first won the World Cup.

He milked the occasion for all its political worth, to the extent that opposition MPs accused his office of “politicising its reception for the England rugby team”, but Johnson will surely do likewise should England win on Saturday, particularly with a general election just round the corner.

The players will also benefit if they win, with The Guardian reporting that they “will share a jackpot of nearly £7m if they overcome South Africa”. 

On top of that there will be million-pound sponsorship and endorsement deals, not to mention the after-dinner speaking circuit once they hang up their boots.

Steady Eddie

But the England squad must put all that to the back of their minds in the next 24 hours and focus on one thing only - beating the bruising Springboks. 

At least in their head coach, Eddie Jones, they have a man who has been there and got the T-shirt. This will be his third experience of a World Cup final - he coached Australia in 2003 and was on the South Africa staff when they won the cup four years later - and his message to his players is embrace the occasion. 

“Saturday is the biggest sporting event in the world and our players get to play in that arena, what an exciting opportunity for them to be themselves, to play with spirit, to play with pride and an English style of play,” he said. 

“They can inspire a whole country now, they can inspire a sporting community. That’s the opportunity they’ve got and all the messages that we’ve seen back in England at the moment is that there’s a bit of a rugby fever going on, so now mums are telling kids ‘play rugby’, be the next Kyle Sinckler, be the next Ellis Genge, and that’s the opportunity they’ve got.”

Feel-good factor

And the astute Jones knows that an England win on Saturday would mean more than usual for the country after the divisiveness of the last few years. 

He added: “It changes how the country feels about itself for a period of time - it might change at the next general election - but for a period of time it changes how people feel about themselves and that’s the greatest joy. 

“You’ve got this opportunity to change people’s lives through the ability to play rugby, and it’s a gift isn’t it?”

Today’s back pages

England can ‘inspire a nation’ by winning the World Cup

Rugby World Cup further reading


‘Horror’ start: Ten Hag has a ‘hell of a job’ at United
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag
View from the terraces

‘Horror’ start: Ten Hag has a ‘hell of a job’ at United

Serena and her ‘evolution’ away from tennis
Serena Williams beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz at the Canadian Open in Toronto on 8 August

Serena and her ‘evolution’ away from tennis

Commonwealth Games: an ‘uncertain’ future?
The 2022 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham
Behind the scenes

Commonwealth Games: an ‘uncertain’ future?

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend
Erling Haaland scored both goals on his Premier League debut for Manchester City
View from the terraces

Premier League: what we learned from the opening weekend

Popular articles

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

What is ‘quiet quitting’?
Two men leave their office
In Depth

What is ‘quiet quitting’?

The Week Footer Banner