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Pitchside with Ferris: My take ahead of the 2019 World Cup final

| 31.10.2019

England v South Africa – Rugby World Cup final, Saturday @ 9:00am  

For me England have been the most consistent team throughout the tournament and being 5-point favorites heading into this final I think is well deserved.   

England put the pressure on with Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes. All these big guys are running around smashing the opposition.

As soon as they get into the opposition half, that’s when they put the key in the ignition and work their way from first gear to fifth straight up the pitch and strangle the opposition into making mistakes. Which inevitably leads to points.  

Eddie Jones is mindful of getting the ball into the likes of Anthony Watson and Johnny May’s hands as they make valuable explosive yards time and time again.

Both players have been on fire and are hard to look past in terms of first try scorer in the final. However, Manu Tuilagi did score last weekend from a pick and go from 2 yards out, so he could be lurking again and worth a punt.  

Last weekend I expected South Africa to win by 10-20 points due to the lack of cohesion Wales have had over the last number of weeks. But they buckled under the pressure and counted their lucky stars when they managed to get up the pitch and get that penalty in the nick of time.  

I think there will be a lot more nerves in the South African camp after their Semi-Final performance. Nevertheless, it is about peaking at the right time and who knows, this South African team may peak for the Final.

Looking back to 1995, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup on home soil, which they probably weren’t favorites for, but they triumphed on the day and that’s all that matters.  

The big talking point going into this game if the referee, Jerome Garces. For me he has been one of the most inconsistent referees throughout this tournament.

The breakdown can turn in to a free for all.. the offside line might as well not be there.. and he is happy to go to his pocket for a yellow or red card. The key for both teams is to play the referee and keep on the right side of him. Easier said than done with a French ref!

Top player in the Rugby World Cup   

I have been really impressed with England captain, Owen Farrell. He’s 28 years of age and being the play maker and the guy who makes his team tick looks effortless to him.

Eddie Jones has put a lot of faith in Owen and he has not let him down. To cope with all the pressure and lead your country to a World Cup Final and play outstandingly well throughout the tournament… Owen Farrell is my top player of the RWC2019! 

High and low points in the 2019 Rugby World Cup  

The home nation Japan have been my highlight. The energy, pace and determination they have brought to every game was a real joy to watch during this World Cup. Being a tier two nation and watching them flourish into a team that can mix in with the best in sport, has been outstanding.   

The biggest disappointment for me was seeing Ireland not playing to their full potential in yet another Rugby World Cup. 

Watching the team get defeated in a Quarter Final was a tough one to take. Everyone was full of confidence the team would pull off one of these one off performances.

Unlike England where Owen Farrell has produced a master class week in week out, our big game players didn’t get off the bus unfortunately.

Seeing England beat New Zealand the following week puts Ireland’s defeat into perspective for where they now stand. But pro Rugby can change quickly, and I hope Ireland get back to where we all know they can be… No.1!  

The end of the Rugby World Cup 2019  

A lot of people had reservations about the World Cup going to Japan. For us Northern Hemisphere teams it is a difficult place to get to, it’s very expensive and the weather conditions are completely opposite to what we are used to.

Even with the few obstacles like the Typhoon and the Scotland v Japan game almost getting cancelled, I think this tournament has done so much for Rugby in Japan now, and going forward.  

When you look at how far their team has come in the last six months, I think there could be change in store for World Rugby in terms of adding teams to different tournaments.

Maybe having a relegation play off or whoever comes last in the Six Nations might drop out. There could even be someone like Japan added into the Rugby Championship… who knows what is around the corner! 

This Rugby World Cup 2019 for me has been a resounding success. When I look at Rory Best, who I played with previously.

I think of the potential there could have been for me to be out there playing alongside the team and experiencing such a different culture. I hope I can make my own trip out to Japan at some stage to experience what seems to be a very unique culture.   

幸運を祈ります (I wish you good luck) England and South Africa in the 2019 World Cup final.  




Stephen Ferris

After a fine backrow career with Ulster and Ireland, Stephen Ferris will be sharing his thoughts on all the big rugby talking points here on Ladbrokes News, including the World Cup and Six Nations.