Matt Proudfoot, Springbok forwards coach, explained to curious international media the place that the team occupies in the psyche of many South Africans.

"South Africa as a country has got a lot of challenges,” Proudfoot said.

“But we are resilient people. We understand what it means to live at the tip of Africa. It is a country with a hell of a lot of pride in their national identity.

"I suppose the history and what ’95 (the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup victory) meant for the country created a new opportunity for people in South Africa.

"The Springbok is the tool people use as a symbol of hope, a symbol of opportunity. It shows, if you look at the stories of the players in the team, what can be achieved with hard work. I suppose it is wrapped up in the psychology of a lot of people.

"South Africans love the game. We grow up with it in the schools, young boys play it, and it is a highly supported activity back home.

"From a young age, you get indoctrinated into the game, and there is no better symbol. When you see a player become a Springbok, they change, and they pass it on to the country. There is a real connection between the Springbok player, and what it means to be a Springbok, and the supporter back home."

The Springboks have been buoyed by the excitement that their progress to the final has created in South Africa.

Videos of celebrating fans are shared among players and messages of support are captured on a digital monitor outside the team room. A video selfie from the team recoded by captain Siya Kolisi after Sunday’s semi-final win over Wales has received millions of views on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The team knows that a nation expects but Proudfoot needed no reminding that England will go into the final as clear favourites in popular international opinion.

"We’ve played them four times in the last 18 months, and it’s been 2-2,” he said.

“They were the victors in the last two, and we were the victors in the previous two. I think it’s going to be very tight between the two sides.

"They were very efficient and very powerful against New Zealand [in the semi-final], and were probably the trendsetters. For us to match that intensity, it’s something we’ve spoken about.

"They were really good, and I don’t think it was just brute force – there was a lot of intelligent play, very effective play from their pack. I was very impressed with what I saw, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us to meet that.”

The England team lost the SA series, 2-1, after holding threatening leads in the first two Tests – only to surrender them – but their semi-final victory over New Zealand has been hailed as one of their greatest ever performances.

"They have a lot more confidence in what they’re doing,” said Proudfoot.

“They understand what they want to do, and the time Eddie’s been with them, and Neal (Hatley, scrum coach) and Steve Borthwick (forwards coach) have worked with them, the more efficient they have become up front.

"I think 'Mitch' (England defence coach John Mitchell) has added a lot of detail about their defence, particularly what they do around the tackle. They have just become more efficient at what they do.

"If you look at their, what we would term their efficiency of execution, it is a lot better, and really up there. That’s what we need to match. It’s going to be a tough game."