England vs All Blacks : England too have looked comfortable until this point, particularly as Typhoon Hagibis also ruled out the biggest challenge, the group game against France.
WHAT: England vs All Blacks
WHEN: Saturday 26 October, 5pm local time
WHERE: Yokohama, Japan
STREAMING, US: NBC Sports Gold
For the semi-final the All Blacks and England have mostly retained the sides that got them this far with minor but key changes. England have recalled fly-half George Ford, moving skipper Owen Farrell to inside centre to accommodate him, and thus giving England more kicking options. Meanwhile, New Zealand have chosen Scott Barrett, a lock, to play at blindside flanker, and will look to dominate the line-out and potentially negating kicking for touch as a viable option.
For Sunday’s semi-final Wales are hoping to have centre Jonathan Davies fit after he missed the tense quarter final against France due to a knee injury. The loss of full-back Liam Williams to injury is a major blow.
Whenever Wales depart this tournament it will be the end of Warren Gatland’s tenure as head coach, twelve years during which Welsh rugby has been reinvigorated to the point where there is genuine optimism in the valleys that this could finally be Wales’ time to win the World Cup. A golden period unseen in Wales since the 1970s.
South Africa too have been reinvigorated, but in less than two years, by coach Rassie Erasmus. As the winners of the 2019 Rugby Championship, including a 16-16 tie with New Zealand, the Springboks have plenty of hope about their own chances of lifting the trophy for a third time to sit alongside their historic triumph in 1995 and 2007’s glory.
Thus far the northern hemisphere has only provided one Rugby World Cup winner, England in 2003. Wales are keen to join the short list of nations that have been crowned world champions. The other three, having been there before, will be equally keen to stop them.