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England’s young side bruised, but this was about more than sport

by ace
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Owen Farrell of England after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 2, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

England's young players are likely to be hurt by their defeat to South Africa in the World Cup final for a long time.

The team was the youngest to play in a professional era final, with an average age of 27 years and 60 days.

Sam Underhill, the 23-year-old flanker who so impressed this tournament with his excavator equipment, said earlier this week that they did not desperately want to wait four years for the Webb Ellis trophy again.

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Siya Kolisi from South Africa and Tom Curry from England changed shirts after the match

But now this is their cross and they have the long journey home to reflect on what could have been. The team's flight leaves Tokyo to London on Monday morning, but before that they have an awards dinner in the Japanese capital, where the South African team will be recognized for their victory.

Maro Itoje, 25, was so hurt by the defeat that he refused to wear the runner-up medal and did not disguise his hurt later.

"It was one of the most painful experiences I've had as a rugby player and in my life to be honest," he said.

"We didn't really get into the game, we didn't play the way we wanted to play. The scrum was a frustration, but there's a lot to learn and we move on."

Things started to go wrong for England before they even took the field. Their bus to the stadium was stuck in the notoriously terrible traffic of Tokyo. They arrived 20 minutes late and consequently had a slightly hasty buildup.

South African flanker Siya Kolisi (C) raises Webb Ellis Cup as they celebrate victory in the 2019 Rugby Japan World Cup final between England and South Africa at Yokohama International Stadium in Yokohama on November 2 of 2019 (Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa makes history at World Cup

Eddie Jones, however, insisted that this did not contribute to the slow start. He also did not try to use the injury to support Kyle Sinckler in the third minute as an excuse. Sinckler, who was one of England's stars in Japan, was knocked out after a collision with Itoje and was treated in the field for several minutes.

"It's part of the game, mate," Jones said. "I don't think that was a significant factor in the game."

England fans started to leave Yokohama International Stadium with a few minutes to play when a Springboks victory seemed certain. Some had tear-stained faces where the makeup of the St. George's flag began to drip.

"I won't lie, I cried a little," said one teenage girl. "We were not the same team that beat New Zealand in the semi-final, we just had no answers."

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: South Africa captain Siya Kolisi celebrates with teammates following his victory during the 2019 Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa at Yokohama International Stadium on 2 November 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers / Getty Images)
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Siya Kolisi, South Africa captain, celebrates with teammates

It is true that England could not cope with the speed, energy and discipline of the South African team led by astute coach Rassie Erasmus. They didn't expect the defensive line to be so impenetrable either.

Winger Jonny May admitted he was simply defeated by a better side on the day.

"It didn't work," he said.

"We weren't accurate enough. Everything matters in a test match, a small mistake, everything has an impact. You can shrink from momentum and belief and they grow. They held up the pressure and we cracked in the end."

"They got what they deserved but we were not at our best and that is disappointing."

The Springboks filmed a group video after defeating England in the World Cup final, dedicating the victory to their country.

& # 39; This is for you, South Africa & # 39;

Joe Marler, 28, left international retirement after being called up for the World Cup in England, but remained measured after the game, saying he had no regrets.

"Going out and having fun helps give perspective, win or lose, we're playing a game we love," he said.

"Yes, I would love to have won. There is a burning desire in this group to win and call themselves world champion, but South Africa deserved it."

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 2: Joe Marler of England recognizes the crowd after defeat at the 2019 Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa at Yokohama International Stadium on November 2, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa , Japan. (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)
Image:
Joe Marler said he had no regrets

For South Africa, it is a victory with great social and cultural significance. Captain Siya Kolisi, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy, will be one of the defining images of rugby history, the nation's first black captain who brought them to glory on the biggest stage.

From the municipalities to the top of the world, some stories are bigger than sports.

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