Rugby World Cup: Fans heartbroken as England lose to South Africa

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Red Rose fans watched as England failed to come close to the World Cup trophy

Millions of England fans were left disappointed as Eddie Jones' men lost to South Africa in today's nail-biting Rugby World Cup final.

Supporters were up early to watch the clash which saw the Springboks defeat England 32-12 in Japan.

They filled pubs across the country, in the hope the favourites England might repeat their 2003 win.

Tens of thousands of fans watched in Japan, alongside the Duke of Sussex, patron of the Rugby Football Union.

The game, which kicked off at 09:00 GMT at the Yokohama International Stadium, was England's first World Cup final in 12 years.

But things did not go their way from the start, with prop Kyle Sinckler knocked out in an accidental collision - before England conceded several penalties.

Then the Springboks put the result beyond doubt with two tries in the second half.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
England captain Owen Farrell (centre) and his team could not overcome South Africa

Pubs in London began to empty even before the final whistle, as South Africa's name was engraved on the Webb Ellis cup for the third time.

But England fans in the Admiralty pub, in London's Trafalgar Square, said, while they were disappointed, the best team had won.

Michael O'Donnell, 58, from Kent, said the Springboks were "a much stronger team physically" on the day.

"While I'm disappointed with the result, nothing fell England's way and they [the Springboks] deserved the game," he said.

"Last week [in the semi-final against New Zealand] we were outstanding, and this week there was a little bit of nerves and it wasn't to be.

"I'm upset because the players truly believed they were going to win today. They will take it like men. We watched the best team win today."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Nails were bitten to the quick as fans in London watched the match slip away

Paul Wylie, 57, of Sevenoaks, said South Africa had been "strong and brutal".

"I was worried that we peaked last week because it was a massive thing to beat New Zealand," he said.

"Their game today was too strong for us. They set their stall out and played a much tougher game.

"Getting to the final is a massive achievement in itself."

Some fans voiced their disappointment, accusing the England team of underperforming.

Thomas Bishop, 30, said: "I was expecting England to do better and they underperformed, if anything."

Dominic Maher, 34, added: "It's the final and I just came out for the atmosphere, but England massively underperformed. They had a lot of spirit in the first half, but in the second half it went downhill rapidly."

After the match, England Rugby tweeted it was "not the result we wanted", before congratulating the Springboks on their win.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

A number of politicians commiserated with England on their loss, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The British Beer and Pub Association had predicted an extra million pints would be sold today if England had been victorious. It's not known how many more are likely to be drunk as fans drown their sorrows.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Glum faces at Harpenden Rugby Club the training ground of England captain Owen Farrell

Harpenden Rugby Club - where three of the World Cup team, including captain Owen Farrell, began their rugby careers - hosted an event for several hundred fans.

So many England supporters turned up, they were forced to watch the game from outside, despite the rain.

Tom Stagg, a fly-half for Harpenden Rugby Football Club (HRFC), said the loss was sad, adding it was "going to end with a few beers".

"We have four ex-players from the club in the final, to lose is obviously very disappointing but it has been such a great trip - and it has been awesome."

Many supporters, including Mr Stagg, wore Owen Farrell face masks for the final.

"He was always a hell of a player," he said.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Meanwhile fans at Crewe & Nantwich RUFC - the club where flanker Tom Curry and his twin brother Ben played up to the age of 16 - donned Tom Curry masks in anticipation of an England win, but were left disappointed on the final whistle.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Heartbroken fans at Crewe & Nantwich RUFC

Ahead of the match, vice chair Andy Pemberton, who did some coaching with the twins during their time at the club, said: "To see one of your guys walking out, knowing he's played at the pitches here at Crewe & Nantwich is something special. The chest puffs out.

"You see him belting out the national anthem and it brings a tear to your eye."

But what may earlier have been tears of pride later turned to tears of disappointment.

As England fans commiserated, Springbok supporters celebrated their victory up and down the country.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Victory salutes from delighted South Africa fans

In Bristol, hundreds of fans gathered at Ashton Gate stadium to cheer on their teams as they watched the game on the big screen.

But as South Africa overpowered England, only a handful of Springbok fans, including Sean Viljoen and Mark Tonetti, were celebrating on the final whistle.

Sean, 34, said: "It was a big surprise. At the start of the second half England started dominating but our defence was outstanding.

"England made a lot of mistakes as well.

"We're so, so proud of the team. They played exceptionally well."

Image caption,
Sean Viljoen, 34, left, and Mark Tonetti, 36, paid tribute to the many England supporters who congratulated the pair afterwards

Mark, 36, said: "It was surreal being among so many England fans, especially when there were just five of us singing our national anthem."

He acknowledged the good sportsmanship of many England fans who congratulated them after the match.

"I've played rugby many times myself," said Mark. "You always have a drink with the opposition afterwards. It's a great game."