The nation will hold its collective breath later this morning as England line up to take on South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.
Millions of fans in pubs, clubs and homes 6,000 miles away from the action in Japan are expected to be glued to screens to see if Eddie Jones’ team can lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
The Queen and the Prime Minister have sent messages of support to the England boys ahead of the 9am kick- off.
It has been 12 years since England were in a final and 16 years since they won it.
England go into today’s game as the favourites but there is no room for complacency as the Springboks have won three of their four World Cup encounters with the English.
Prince Harry is among of tens of thousands of Red Rose supporters who have travelled to Japan to watch the eagerly-anticipated clash at the Yokohama International Stadium.
The Duke of Sussex is expected to personally convey the Queen’s ‘best wishes’ to the team for a ‘memorable and successful match.’
Boris Johnson has said the whole country was behind Eddie Jones’s team through every ‘kick, ruck, lineout and maul’.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 1, 2019
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.
Broadcaster ITV said coverage of England’s semi-final clash against the All Blacks 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.
Many pubs, including 2,000 in London, are opening earlier to allow fans to watch the game.
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.
Ken said: ‘Rosie and I will be happy for the other whatever the result – even if bragging rights will be decided for the next four years.’
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.’
Teacher Anne Wheeler gave up her job to follow the England team around Japan for six weeks with girlfriend Genevieve Moody.
Anne, from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, said: ‘No school is going to give a teacher six weeks off to watch the rugby. But when will I get the chance to come out to Japan and do this again?’
This content was originally published here.