Proudfoot: Final is going to be very tight
Springbok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said England had become the “trend-setters” ahead of Saturday’s highly-charged Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama.
England powered their way through the pool stages and also got the better of Australia and then New Zealand in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. Proudfoot said the Boks, who beat Japan and Wales in their knockout games, would have to match the intensity and efficiency of the Eddie Jones-coached side if they were to have a chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.
“I think it’s going to be very tight between the two of us,” said Proudfoot, whose Bok pack have become the heartbeat of the team in Japan.
“England were very efficient and very powerful against New Zealand and were probably the trend-setters. For us to match that intensity... it’s something we’ve spoken about.”
Proudfoot added there was a lot more to the England side than just raw physical power. “They were really good in the semi-final, and I don’t think it was just brute force. There was a lot of intelligent play, very effective play from their pack. I was very impressed with what I saw, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us to meet that.”
With lock Maro Itoje leading the way, and followed by Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Kyle Sinckler, England completely dominated the All Blacks, but this weekend they will be up against an equally physical Bok side. In Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager the Boks also boast a pack to be taken seriously.
Proudfoot said England have “a lot of confidence” in what they are currently doing.
“They understand what they want to do, and the time Eddie’s been with them, and Neal (Hatley, scrum coach) and Steve Borthwick (forwards coach) have worked with them, the more efficient they have become up front,” Proudfoot said.
And, Proudfoot also praised the work done by former Lions and Bulls coach John Mitchell, who is England’s defence coach. “I think Mitch has added a lot of detail about their defence, particularly what they do around the tackle. They have just become more efficient at what they do. If you look at what we call efficiency of execution it is a lot better and really up there. That’s what we need to match. It’s going to be a tough game,” Proudfoot said.