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Looking for England vs South Africa predictions and odds ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday? We’ve got you covered…
Five. That is the number of nations that have played in a Rugby World Cup Final in the tournament’s history, dating back to its inception in 1987.
Though this England vs South Africa semi-final will not produce a new finalist, both have competed and won before, it will create a new generation of heroes. Every four years, only 46 of the best players in the world are lucky enough to say they played in a World Cup Final and 23 of them will come from one of these two teams.
Four years ago, all 46 came from these two nations and while half of them tasted sweet joy like they had never experienced before, the other half tasted a bitter, saddening taste that has lingered in their mouths ever since, begging to be washed away.
It is a replay of the England vs South Africa 2007 Rugby World Cup Final, a replay of the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, a meeting of two old foes with a genuine dislike for one another, it is a Rugby World Cup semi-final and it doesn’t get much better than this.
England vs South Africa match predictions
While South Africa appear to be in much better form entering this fixture and the nailed-on favourites, only one team left at Rugby World Cup 2023 is still unbeaten and that team is England.
England to win with a + 13.5 point handicap @ 4/5 (1.80)
This game might not be as cut and dried as some immediately presume. Rugby World Cup semi-finals do not obey form or favourites-tags, they are one-off games which can be won by a stroke of genius or luck.
Though England winning this game is far-fetched, a 14-point+ winning margin is probably more unlikely, as a tense and nervous affair is on the cards.
In saying this, when these teams met at the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, the deficit was 20 points in South Africa’s favour but maybe this will just be fuel on England’s fire, a memory that many of the players remember all too well and are keen to rectify.
Kurt-Lee Arendse to score the first try @ 15/2 (8.50)
Few players in world rugby are in better form than this guy and rightly so, who could have foreseen that anyone could dethrone the electric Makozole Mapimpi in this South Africa team, a scorer in the England vs South Africa 2019 Rugby World Cup Final.
It takes a special player to do so, and Kurt-Lee is that guy.
Built in the mould of Cheslin Kolbe but also someone who brings someone completely different, Arendse competes well in all areas but is first and foremost, an out-and-out finisher. He knows how to get to the line and does so more often than not.
Despite scoring just two tries at Rugby World Cup 2023 so far, he scored a crucial try in the win versus France last week and has 13 tries in his 14 total Springbok caps, almost a try every game. If the Boks score first and they probably will, don’t be surprised to see Arendse on the end of it.
England vs South Africa match preview
The only thing certain in this game is that whoever loses is going to be bitterly, bitterly distraught, this is a fixture which historically carries a lot of bad blood and niggle which will be heightened infinitely by the raised stakes of an England vs South Africa Rugby World Cup semi-final.
England are the ultimate underdogs. Despite their relatively easy run, owing to their pool, they have defied everyone’s expectations, even their own supporters, in a way that only England knows hows.
Steve Borthwick has England playing the kind of rugby that people so often associate with England and that the fans remember so fondly, that is, gritty, forward-dominated, highly tactical and hideously boring to watch at times but effective and conducive to winning games.
If England were to go on and win the Rugby World Cup from here, however unlikely that may be, it would without doubt be the greatest and most unlikely run to a World Cup title ever.
Many will say that England will consider a semi-final exit a success at this tournament and thus will lie down and resign to one, they would be right on the former point, terribly wrong on the latter. This group is passionate and strong-minded and will go into the game on Saturday night believing they can win, however unlikely that may be.
One of the biggest criticisms of South Africa coming into Rugby World Cup 2023 is that they have changed very little since their heroic victory in 2019. Minus a few minor changes in personnel and tactics, they arrived in France with essentially the same squad and gameplan. And it has worked perfectly.
They fell narrowly to Ireland in the group stage, a result that proved inconsequential after they stunningly defeated the hosts last week in maybe the best rugby match ever played.
Jacques Nienaber’s biggest strength is that he knows his players and knows what to do with them and, crucially, the players know their role and know what to do at any given moment. He could change half of his squad for this game and have them playing seamlessly like nothing changed at all.
As the World Cup narrows to four teams, it is increasingly hard to look past South Africa as the eventual winners, they are tough but fast, tactical but free-thinkers, calm but intense and, most importantly, they just know how to win.
England vs South Africa match details
- Date and Time: Saturday 21st October, 20:00 GMT
- Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
- How to Watch England vs South Africa: See Here
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