If the game remains tied even after 80 intense minutes have passed, get ready for the thrilling experience of extra time. Two exciting halves, each lasting 10 minutes, will be played. However, if a winner is still not determined, be prepared for the ultimate showdown: sudden death. In this intense battle, every second is crucial as the competitors strive to make their mark and achieve glory. Within those precious 10 minutes, the one who scores first, who lights up the scoreboard with a flurry of points, will emerge as the victorious one.

England will bid to make back-to-back Rugby World Cup finals when they face defending champions South Africa in the second semi-final in Paris on Saturday.

The game is a repeat of the 2019 final when South Africa, who started as underdogs, triumphed 32-12 in Japan.

The Springboks knocked out hosts France in a thrilling quarter-final and are ranked the world’s number-one team.

Steve Borthwick’s England overcame a spirited Fiji 30-24 to extend their winning run to five games in France.

Three-time world champions South Africa finished runners-up in their pool – losing to Ireland – but produced an impressive performance against the hosts in an epic Test match.

England, the only undefeated side left in the competition, have had a much smoother path to the semi-finals with pool wins over Argentina, Japan, Chile and Samoa.

In total, 26 of the 43 players who featured in the 2019 final are involved on Saturday.

The winner will play either Argentina or New Zealand in the final at the Stade de France on Saturday, 28 October.

Team news

Freddie Steward’s aerial ability and Joe Marler’s scrummage power have won them starts in England’s team.

Steward replaces Marcus Smith, who failed the return-to-play protocols after suffering a facial injury in the quarter-final win over Fiji.

George Martin comes into the second row in place of Ollie Chessum.

Vice-captain Ellis Genge drops to the bench alongside George Ford as Owen Farrell retains his fly-half role.

South Africa have named an unchanged side, which means scrum-half-Cobus Reinach and fly-half Manie Libbok retain their places in the starting XV, with Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard both on the bench.

Head coach Jacques Nienaber has opted again for a 5-3 split of forwards and backs among his replacements.


England: Steward; May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Farrell (capt), Mitchell; Marler, George, Cole, Itoje, Martin, Lawes, Curry, Earl.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Sinckler, Chessum, Vunipola, Care, Ford, Lawrence.

South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, Reinach; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (captain), Du Toit, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Fourie, Nche, Koch, Snyman, Smith, De Klerk, Pollard, Le Roux.

View from England’s camp

England head coach Steve Borthwick: “There is always belief that is strong in this team. There are players that have performed at the very highest levels. They can’t wait for this.”

Captain Owen Farrell on the occasion: “We’ve just talked about embracing it. About trying to get the best out of ourselves on these occasions. It’s not necessarily anything new, anything out of the ordinary. There are a lot of players in this team who know how to win big games.”

View from South Africa’s camp

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber: “Someone asked me the other day, ‘Are the guys who are not selected unlucky?’ No, they’re not unlucky. The guys who got selected are not lucky. They got selected because they deserved it but I can tell you there wouldn’t be a big difference if Andre Esterhuizen or Jasper Wiese or Faf de Klerk starts.”

Captain Siya Kolisi on England: “The rivalry has been around long before my time. It’s a big country and a big team, it’s always special to play against them at Twickenham. They play hard. Even after the World Cup final, we lost the next game [27-26 at Twickenham in November 2021] so it’s always tough to play against them.”

‘A chance for retribution and revenge’ – expert view

England’s 2003 World Cup winner Will Greenwood on BBC Radio 5 Live: “South Africa go in as red-hot favourites and everyone is already planning for a South Africa-New Zealand final but old foes England have overcome them many times in the last 10-15 years and a bit of expected rain in Paris with the high pressured environment of a semi-final are variables you can throw into the pot.

“It is one of the ultimate tests, but England have been building towards this. A lot of the 2019 lads walked off the field four years ago in Tokyo utterly dejected as they got that close and fell short. So many have a chance for retribution and revenge. It is a team that denied them glory.

“They will not go quietly into the night. If South Africa win it they will have to be fabulous.”

Match officials

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)

Assistants: Andrew Brace (Ireland) and Paul Williams (New Zealand)

TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

Match facts

Head-to-head stats

  • South Africa have won four out of their five games with England at World Cups, the last being the 32-12 victory in the 2019 final in Japan
  • England have won three out of their last five Test matches against South Africa
  • Overall, in 45 games between the sides South Africa lead with 27 wins to England’s 16


  • England are on a five-match winning run having come into the tournament with one win in six games
  • They have scored just one try across their five meetings with South Africa at World Cups

South Africa

  • The Springboks have won 11 of their last 13 Test matches averaging 4.8 tries per game
  • Only New Zealand (4.3) have scored more points per 22 entry than South Africa (3.3) in this year’s World Cup

What happens if it’s a draw?

If the scores are tied after 80 minutes, there will be extra time of two 10-minute halves. If there is still no winner, the game will go to sudden death, in which whoever scores the first points in the 10 allotted minutes wins.

Should they still be unable to separate the two sides, the game will finally go to a kicking competition.

Only five players from each side who were on the pitch at the end of the match can take a kick. If both sides are successful with their five attempts, this will continue on a sudden death basis until someone misses. – bbc.com

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