Plaudits will be heaped on the victor when Eddie Jones pits his coaching wits against Rassie Erasmus in Saturday’s World Cup final, but the backroom staff behind both men will also have a significant influence on the outcome.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the men working behind the scenes to give England and South Africa the best chance of lifting the trophy.
Steve Borthwick (forwards)
Won 57 caps for England between 2001 and 2010 and captained them from 2008-10. From 2012 he was forwards coach with Japan up to and including the 2015 World Cup – working under Jones – and, after taking on the same role for Bristol, was appointed by England in December 2015. The former Bath and Saracens lock is reportedly set to take up a senior role with Leicester after the final.
Neal Hatley (scrum)
A prop with London Irish and the University of Natal in his playing days, he moved into coaching with the Exiles’youth academy and joined Bath as forwards coach in 2012. Four years later he left to become England’s scrum coach and will quit the role after Saturday to rejoin Bath as part of a new set-up led by Stuart Hooper.
John Mitchell (defence)
The former Sale head coach was in charge of the All Blacks from 2001-03 and was appointed as England’s defence coach in 2018. He was widely acclaimed for his role in the 19-7 win over New Zealand in the semi-finals and goes into the final well aware of the Springboks’ strengths, having coached South Africa’s Lions and Bulls in Super Rugby.
Scott Wisemantel (attack)
A much-travelled Australian who played rugby league for Parramatta and coached in France, Samoa, Japan and his homeland. He worked under Jones with the Brave Blossoms at the 2015 World Cup and joined up with him again with England in 2018, initially as an attack consultant on the South Africa tour.
Mzwandile Stick (backs)
A full-back who captained South Africa in their triumphant 2008–09 IRB Sevens World Series campaign and came off the bench for the Southern Kings against the 2009 British and Irish Lions. He was appointed as backs coach of the Kings for the 2016 Super Rugby season and joined the Springboks in the same role in April 2016.
Matt Proudfoot (forwards)
A South Africa-born forward who played for Melrose, Glasgow and Edinburgh and also won four caps for Scotland from 1998-2003, qualifying through his grandfather. After retiring, he coached the forwards at Western Province, Stormers and Japanese club Kobelco Steelers before becoming an assistant coach with the Springboks in 2016.
Jacques Nienaber (defence)
A qualified physiotherapist, Nienaber has worked with Rassie Erasmus since their Free State Cheetahs days in the mid-2000s, initially as strength and conditioning coach. They were together at the Stormers and Western Province and Nienaber was on the Springboks’ coaching staff at the 2011 World Cup. He followed Erasmus to Munster in 2016 and are now reunited once again with South Africa.