Heartbroken rugby fans have had their hopes of World Cup glory dashed after South Africa’s victory in Japan this morning.
Supporters had to shelve their dreams for another four years after an early start to watch England’s 32-12 loss in the Yokohama Stadium.
Prince Harry was among the anxious faces in the crowd, while thousands of ordinary supporters had forked out to make the journey to fill out the stands.
Pubs in London began to empty before the final whistle as South Africa’s name was engraved on the trophy.
But despite the disappointment, most people were magnanimous about South Africa’s victory.
England fans in The Admiralty pub in Trafalgar Square admitted 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 deserved the game,” he said.
“Last week 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.”
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.”
Other fans had come out for the first time to see how England fared in the final, but left disappointed.
Thirty-year-old Thomas Bishop said: “I was expecting England to do better and they under-performed 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.”
Boris Johnson had tweeted a picture of himself watching the game with his dog, with the caption: “Come on England!”
He later wrote: “Hats off to South Africa who were just rocklike in defence today but @EnglandRugby can hold their heads high after an amazing tournament.”
Former England player turned pundit Brian Moore tweeted: “Congratulations to South Africa – world champions with a fantastic physical and technical display in the set piece and at the breakdown.
“No complaints; England outplayed in every area.”
Jeremy Corbyn wrote: “Commiserations to @englandrugby. It wasn’t to be today but you’ve done us proud throughout this World Cup.”
Sadiq Khan posted: “Thank you @englandrugby for a terrific, thrilling tournament. You did us proud!
“Congratulations to South Africa on the win. #RWC2019”
Harpenden Rugby club – where three of the World Cup team including captain Owen Farrell trained – hosted a big event for fans.
So many England fans turned up they were forced to stand outside to watch the game despite the pouring rain.
Elsewhere, Crewe & Nantwich RUFC – the club England flanker Tom Curry and his twin brother Ben played for up to the age of 16 – were hosting a screening of the final.
Some fans had even fashioned their own Tom Curry masks.
Vice chair Andy Pemberton, who did some coaching with the twins during their time at the club, told the PA news agency ahead of the match: “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.”
A fly-half for Harpenden Rugby Football Club watching the match paid tribute to his former teammates after South Africa’s win.
Harpenden’s fly-half Tom Stagg told PA: “What can I say about this day that hasn’t been already said about my grandma’s funeral? It’s sad, it’s depressing and it’s 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.”
He added: “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.”