RUGBY fans have told of their heartache after England were beaten in the final of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Optimism had been high after England thrashed rugby giants New Zealand to reach the final against South Africa.
But in a horrific performance littered by errors and a shoddy scrum, Eddie Jones’ side were out-muscled by the South Africans who went on to lift their third crown – and their second against England.
The result left English fans at Portsmouth Rugby Club, in Hilsea, crushed.
Robert Strain, 11, of Southsea, was watching the game with his dad, Justin.
The heartbroken rugby fanatic said: ‘It’s gutting we have lost. But in four years, when I’m 15, we will be in France watching them play again. And hey, in this tournament we beat New Zealand, so all’s not lost.
‘I was really hopeful we would win today after last week’s match. But I think it was just bad luck.’
Former Royal Marine Ryan Shelley had hoped to finally watch England win a World Cup finals after missing their last victory against Australia in 2003.
The 35-year-old, of Portsmouth, said: ‘I feel devastated. I genuinely thought this was our year.
‘The last time we won I was a recruit in the Royal Marines and I heard it from the coach as I was coming back from exercise. We got back to camp and heard the cheer and knew they’d won but I didn’t get to see it. .
‘I thought I might actually see England win this time but never mind. It just wasn’t our day.’
However, it wasn’t heartbreak for all the fans packing into Portsmouth Rugby Club.
Thrilled South African Sandy Newsham screamed with delight as the Springboks booted the ball out to end the game 32-12.
The 36-year-old from Portsmouth, who plays rugby for Portsmouth Valkyries, said: ‘This is incredible, it’s amazing. It’s the first time South Africa has won with a black captain – that’s a big moment for us.’
South African Gary Pressman was watching the match from his home in Havant and said the result was a historic one for his country.
He said: ‘After seeing Nelson Mandela in the Springbok jersey in 1995 and now seeing the first black Springbok captain lifting the cup I feel at last that one nation will now indeed become one nation,’
‘As a South African who has seen first hand the apartheid years and the despair of the political situation over the years, I feel the time is now to come together and show what a beautiful country and beautiful people can do together.’
Mike van Schalkwyk watched the match in Horndean and was ‘ecstatic’ with the win adding England was ‘gracious in defeat’.
England’s miserable night at Yokohama International Stadium was a record-equalling fourth final for the side – but also a landmark defeat too, as they became the second country to lose three finals along with France.
The nation last reached the finals in 2007, when they were beaten by South Africa.