As South Africa's national rugby team, the Springboks, wrapped up their final training session before the Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown with England, they couldn't have been more confident. Having recently eliminated the host nation, they're now the top-ranked team in the world and the reigning world champions.
Their previous encounter at a World Cup ended with a convincing 32-12 victory in the final against England, showcasing their dominance in Japan in 2019. In contrast, England, despite a brilliant victory over New Zealand in the semifinals, couldn't maintain that form in the final.
Over the past four years, South Africa has retained its reputation as a powerful and well-organized squad. The forwards remain formidable, and they've improved their attacking strategies under the leadership of flyhalf Manie Libbok.
However, England shouldn't be underestimated at a Rugby World Cup. Despite entering this tournament on the back of only four wins in their last 13 games, they are the only unbeaten team in the competition. Coach Steve Borthwick, in charge for less than a year, always urged critics to assess his team's performance during the World Cup itself, and it appears he was right.
While South Africa remains the favorite, England's remarkable journey to the semi-finals should not be taken lightly. Borthwick faces his biggest challenge yet in finding a way to outmaneuver the experienced Springboks, who have 15 players from their victorious Yokohama final four years ago.