With less than 24 hours until the Springboks take on England in the Rugby World Cup final, thousands of South Africans living in London are gearing up to get out and support the Bokke across the city.
At one rugby club on the outskirts of the capital – they’re even set to outnumber the home crowd.
In a suburb of London, South Africans are taking over. The largest expat group of Springbok supporters – the Braai Army – have made Esher rugby club their home for the World Cup final.
They, along with hundreds of other Boks’ fans, will at the venue at the crack of dawn on Saturday, to watch England face South Africa on the big screens.
Some fans had this to say, “I do believe it’s going to be an upset. I think SA are going to pip them by 5 points but it’s going to be tight, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be amazing.”
And the only South African on the Esher Rugby team Delvin Hope, agrees,”100%, I think to be honest we are the only team that looks like that can beat them. We are the only team left so hopefully we can be the team that beat them. In terms of the way we absorb pressure and what we can do to stop the English, I think we can definitely do it and you’ll see on Saturday there’s a few hundred South Africans here who feel the same way.”
Due to the time difference with Japan – the match kicks off at 9am UK time. So the club is opening its doors early. And preparations are well underway.
Over 2000 pubs and clubs in the English capital will be serving pints from 7am on Saturday as fans gear up to watch the most eagerly anticipated rugby match there is. There’ll be as many in green and gold as there will be wearing the rose – as the braai army cheer on the Springboks to victory – and hopefully their third World Cup trophy.
South Africa have won three of their previous four World Cup encounters with England – including the 2007 final.
But England go into this match favorites having beaten the All Blacks.
And there is belief here that Eddie Jones’ men will be the ones that claim rugby’s biggest prize.
Esher rugby Director and former England Flank, Peter Winterbottom says, “I’ve got a lot of friends who I’ve been in contact with the past couple of weeks from the Pirates Club in Joburg. I’m really sorry guys but there’s going to be a lot of misery in that club for a few years I think.”
Whoever wins on Saturday in Yokohama, the stage is set in Esher for an epic battle. – Holly Hudson, London.
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