TOKYO, 1 Nov - With an average age of 27 years and 60 days, England's starting XV for Saturday's match against South Africa are the youngest Rugby World Cup finalists in the professional era. This is familiar territory for England head coach Eddie Jones, whose Australia team from 2003 was the previous youngest with an average age of 27 years and 71 days. Just as in 2003, Jones's team for Saturday's final in Yokohama features an unusually young pack of forwards.
At Rugby World Cup 2003, Jones fielded two young flankers - Phil Waugh and George Smith, pictured above - a partnership that became the first choice only in June that year. Waugh and Smith are the youngest pair of flankers to have played in a World Cup final, but their record will be beaten by England's 21-year-old Tom Curry and 23-year-old Sam Underhill in Yokohama.
Underhill and Curry, pictured, are not the only young players in this area though. England's pack to face South Africa have an average age of 26 years and 173 days, more than three years per man lower than their England counterparts who won the World Cup 16 years ago, and more than five years per man younger than the England forwards in the RWC 2007 final, which they lost to South Africa.
Traditional thought is that the forwards will be the senior members of a rugby team. Jones is showing that he is no traditionalist. The whole of England's back row for Saturday's final, plus Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje, are under the age of 27 with only Jamie George (28) and Courtney Lawes (30) bucking that trend. It was a similar story for the Australia pack in the RWC 2003 final. Jones has been here before.
Five of Australia's forwards in 2003 were also under the age of 27 but the youngsters were beaten on that occasion, when England's older pack helped them to a close win in a tight game.
This year Jones's young forwards will again face a much older pack as South Africa's equivalent players are around three years older per man. None of the Springboks is under the age of 26 and two, Tendai Mtawarira (34) and Duane Vermeulen (33) are well into their thirties.
This time, Jones will be hoping that bucking the trend of selecting older, battle-hardened forwards pays off.