Jake White backs South Africa to beat England in Rugby World Cup final
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 01/11/19 8:24am
Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White says this year's tournament has resembled a "romantic novel" but he does not predict a happy ending for England.
White led South Africa to their last World Cup success in 2007, beating England in the final, with current England coach Eddie Jones part of his backroom team.
While impressed with how Jones has transformed England's fortunes since their pool-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup, White believes they will fall at the final hurdle against a resurgent Springboks side.
"Finals go to the wire, they generally aren't one-sided," White told Sky Sports.
"I just feel a lot of things are in South Africa's favour. They have an incredible bench and if it does go to the wire they could be really strong at the back-end of the game.
"England only played five games, South Africa have played six. England played [their semi-final on] Saturday, we played Sunday, so there's also a bit of an advantage physically in the time England have had to prepare.
"But my heart tells me the Boks need it more."
I just feel a lot of things are in South Africa's favour. They have an incredible bench and if it does go to the wire they could be really strong at the back-end of the game.
White said it was a "no-brainer" to get Jones on board as a consultant in 2007, four years after he had taken his native Australia to a World Cup final, where they were beaten by England.
"We were going into a World Cup tournament and I just thought we needed someone who had been there and done it," said White.
"Eddie was the only available coach that had been to a World Cup final and could help us.
"Graham Henry had been involved with World Cups but I just thought, 'how lucky could I get?' In 2003 Eddie coached in the final and in 2007 I get the opportunity to use him as a consultant, to actually help us gain whatever edge we could going into that World Cup."
The Springboks beat England in both the pool stages and final that year and they meet again in Saturday's decider in Yokohama.
Siya Kolisi will become the first black captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup if South Africa emerge victorious and White says it would be a massive boost for rugby in the Rainbow Nation.
"Siya has been a great inspiration to everybody," he said. "It's a great feel-good story and as South Africans we need that.
"I've said may times that we didn't take advantage of what happened in 1995 or 2007, for whatever reasons.
"This whole World Cup has almost become like a romantic novel - the first time in Asia, Japan got to the playoffs for the first time ever. The people in this country have embraced the World Cup.
"It would be a great story if Siya gets an opportunity to actually become not only the first black captain [to win a World Cup], but a [South Africa] captain to win another World Cup.
"South Africa genuinely needs a feel-good story."