The battle cry rang out loud and clear from England’s base as Eddie Jones urged his team to play with “no fear” and “inspire a whole country” in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final with South Africa.
Far from nerves beginning to fray as kick-off looms, there was an unmistakable air of confidence in the England camp, reflected in the fact that for only the second time in his four years in charge Jones has named the same starting XV, with George Ford retained at first five-eighth.
There is certainty of selection and clarity of thought as Jones embraces the moment for which he has been planning since 2015.
“We will play with no fear,” said Jones, emphasising the buzz phrase his players will carry with them out on to the field at the International Stadium, in what the England head coach believes will be a seminal moment in their lives.
Jones is under no illusions as to the size of the task, based on his own experiences as part of the Springbok management who helped win the World Cup in 2007. There have been several feisty, bruising encounters between the teams down the years, which Jones attributes to the Boer War.
“I know how much South Africa enjoy the rivalry with England, I know the depth of their feelings and some of it is historical,” said Jones who was so well regarded by the players in 2007 that, even though he was not part of the official management group, wing Bryan Habana posted his own ceremonial Springbok blazer to Jones, who had moved to Saracens, as a gesture of appreciation.
“It’s always the social context of the game which makes it interesting. That’s the great thing about international rugby. We know what to expect from South Africa. They are going to come hard at us. We have to meet that physicality and impose our game on them.”
England have absolute clarity about their game, no matter the opposition. Even though they were able to play fast and wide against New Zealand, when the situation presented itself they were also direct. They know, too, that any game against the Springboks invariably descends into an arm-wrestle.