How do England fare on the biggest of stages?

Before Saturday’s enormous World Cup final in Yokohama, much of the talk this week has focused on performing at your best on the biggest stage.

Before Saturday’s enormous World Cup final in Yokohama, much of the talk this week has focused on performing at your best on the biggest stage.

Eddie Jones’ England side insist there is more left in the tank for the Springboks this weekend.

But we have taken a look through the history books, to try and find out just how often the Red Rose save their best for last.

World Cup finals and Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam deciders were our criteria, and England have had more than their fair share of both over the last three decades:

We start 28 years ago in 1991, quite a year for English rugby that included a Grand Slam and a World Cup final on home turf.

In the old Five Nations, England completed the clean sweep in impressive fashion with a 21-19 win over France.

The game is probably best remembered for Philippe Saint-André’s wonder try but the boot of Simon Hodgkinson and Rory Underwood’s score got England over the line.

Unfortunately, that was not the case a few months later in the World Cup final.

Facing the old enemy Australia, England tried to match their free-scoring Wallaby rivals instead of sticking to what they did best and it ended in a 12-6 defeat in front of their own fans.

However, they bounced back early in 1992 to make it back to back Grand Slams, thumping Wales 24-0 at Rugby HQ.

England went into the World Cup year of 1995 hoping to lay down a marker to the rest of the world.

They did just that, in securing another Grand Slam in quite some style.

Scotland were the beaten party in their all-important fourth and final game, the boot of Rob Andrew claiming all the points in their 24-12 win at home.

But come the World Cup in South Africa, Jonah Lomu gave England an early glimpse at the physical nature of professionalism with four tries in the All Blacks semi-final victory.

Clive Woodward took over England in 1997, and by the time their World Cup crown arrived he had proved his side could compete with the best.

But their big-match temperament was called into question throughout the early part of his reign.

In 1999, England had a Five Nations title and a Grand Slam ripped from their grasp by Scott Gibbs in the final minute at Wembley.

That preceded the Jannie de Beer drop-goal assassination in the World Cup quarter-finals, as England were again sent packing from their own tournament.

The next World Cup cycle started off in similar fashion, England won the Championship in both 2000 and 2001 but failed their big auditions.

In the pouring rain in Edinburgh they let the first Grand Slam slip to Duncan Hodge’s Scotland and then the next year, it was Ireland in a postponed game that exposed their flaws.

But in 2003, England proved they were ready for the reckoning.

They finally achieved the Grand Slam that they so richly deserved, and in quite some style.

Against an Ireland team also chasing the clean sweep, England produced one of their best-ever showings to thump the men in green 42-6 in Dublin.

That confidence rolled into the World Cup in Australia, where England put right the disappointment of 1991 in claiming their first-ever World Cup crown.

It took extra-time to get them over the line, as Lote Tuqiri and Jason Robinson traded first-half tries and Jonny Wilkinson and Elton Flatley went at it from the kicking tee.

But in the end it was THAT Wilkinson drop goal that finished the job.

The England team that finished the job in such fine fashion in 2003 was undoubtedly an aging one.

And they failed to really build on the legacy of that win after Woodward departed and Andy Robinson took over.

Constant injuries to Jonny Wilkinson did not help but it was a real shock when Brian Ashton led England back to the promised land four years later in France.

Mark Cueto’s big toe was the difference, the winger adjudged to be in touch and South Africa were crowned world champions as England’s pack-powered performances that saw off Australia and France came up just short when it counted.

Then it was the turn of Martin Johnson, but he could not get it right on the big stage as England won the 2011 Championship but failed to grab the Grand Slam as Ireland stood fast.

Then after their World Cup exit in the quarter-finals, it fell to Stuart Lancaster to take the job on.

Four times in his four-year reign did England finish second in the Championship, failing their biggest opportunity in 2013 when they went to Cardiff chasing a Grand Slam and were sent packing without even the title after Wales’ record 30-3 win.

Everyone knows how the Lancaster era ended, on home soil in the pool stages of the World Cup.

But from the ashes of that disappointment, Eddie Jones reign rose like a phoenix and they could not have started any better than with a first Grand Slam in 13 years.

That clean sweep was won in Paris, France pushing them all the way before Anthony Watson’s late try and the boot of Owen Farrell sealed the title.

A year later, and England were chasing a second Grand Slam in a row, but this time they came up short in Dublin.

Iain Henderson’s try was the key difference between the two sides, but England retained the Championship.

The warning signs were there for England’s 2018 dip and in this year’s Championship they had to settle for second spot after losing to Wales and drawing with Scotland.

But in the World Cup final this weekend, England take on the Springboks safe in the knowledge that they can handle the big occasion. They have proven it time and again.