Queen and Prime Minister wish England good luck ahead of World Cup final
The Queen and the Prime Minister have sent messages of good luck to the England rugby team as they prepare to take on South Africa in the World Cup final.
England players were praised by the Queen for having “delighted” and “inspired” fans as they battled their way through to the competition’s climax.
Boris Johnson said he was in “awe” of the team after their epic semi-final performance against New Zealand, and believed they can “go one better” on Saturday.
Millions of rugby fans will be tuning in to watch the match in homes and pubs across the country as it kicks off at 0900 GMT.
Broadcaster ITV said coverage of England’s semi-final clash peaked at 10 million viewers, almost three quarters of the overall TV audience, last weekend.
The British Beer and Pub Association predicted that one million extra pints will be sold throughout Saturday if England are victorious in the match at the International Stadium Yokohama in Japan.
The Duke of Sussex is travelling to the Far East for the game and is expected to personally convey his grandmother’s words to the national team in their changing room before kick-off.
In her message, the Queen sent her “very best wishes” to the squad for a “memorable and successful match”.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said the whole country was behind Eddie Jones’s team through every “kick, ruck, lineout and maul”.
The possibility of England facing off against Wales in this year’s final had added extra frisson to the competition for British rugby fans.
But the Welsh failed to overcome South Africa in their semi-final match, and lost the bronze play-off 40-17 to New Zealand on Friday.
Saturday’s match has still created a test for some fans who find themselves split by sporting rivalries.
Newlyweds Rosie and Ken Marshall, who recently honeymooned in Japan, will be cheering on different teams when the final gets underway.
Ken, 37, originally from Johannesburg, and Rosie, 31, will be watching at home in Birmingham while wearing the Mr and Mrs South Africa and England shirts bought for them as a wedding present.
“Rosie and I will be happy for the other whatever the result – even if bragging rights will be decided for the next four years,” Ken said.
Meanwhile, there will also be split allegiances among the ranks of the Queen’s Life Guard on Saturday as the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment go about their duties at Hyde Park Barracks in London.
Corporal of Horse Gareth Cowen, 45, from Plymouth, from 2 Troop Blues and Royals Squadron will be cheering England on, while 1 Troop The Life Guards Corporal of Horse Jacques Hattingh, 39, from Bloemfontein, South Africa, will be backing the Springboks.
“I’m in the British Army, and proud to serve the Queen” said Corporal of Horse Hattingh, adding: “But on Saturday I’ll be shouting out for my homeland. It’s the Springboks all the way”.
Corporal of Horse Cowen said: “I think England have a good chance. They’re the strongest team for many years, it’ll be a definite England win on Saturday.”