England

Published on: 11th September 2015

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Team Profile

World Ranking: 4

Odds of Winning: 9/2

Road To Qualification:

The 2003 Rugby World Cup Winners qualified by making it to the Quarter Finals in 2011, in which they lost to France 12 – 19.

Recent Results

England 21 – 13 Ireland

France 25 – 20 England

England 19 – 14 France

England 73 – 12 Barbarians

England 55 – 35 France

World Cup Pool Games:

Date Time Team v Team Stadium
Friday, 18 September 15 20:00 England v Fiji Twickenham Stadium, London
Saturday, 26 September 15 20:00 England v Wales Twickenham Stadium
Saturday, 3 October 15 20:00 England v Australia Twickenham Stadium
Saturday, 10 October 15 20:00 England v Uruguay Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Strengths

  • Scrum, through strong and experienced pack
  • Exciting new players coming through in the backs
  • Strength in depth
  • Home advantage

Weaknesses

  • Lineout, suffers by the omission of first choice hooker
  • Indiscipline continuously cause for concern

Key Players

  • Chris Robshaw
  • Jonathan Joseph
  • Courtney Lawes
  • Mike Brown
  • George Ford

Injuries/Unlucky To Miss Out

  • Manu Tuilagi will miss the whole tournament after an indiscretion earlier in the year involving attacking a London Taxi and two WPCs, along with a persistent ankle injury.
  • Dylan Hartley, after headbutting his eventual replacement, Jamie George, received a ban that removed him from selection from the first RWC Test against Fiji. Likely won’t appear at all unless one of our other hookers gets injured.
  • Ben Foden spent much of the year injured, and might otherwise have featured in the RWC if he’d had a chance to make an appearance in the 6 Nations or England’s warm-ups.
  • Tom Croft dislocated his shoulder in March. He has also been with the squad in the training camp. Regardless of him making it back to full fitness will likely not make an appearance.
  • Alex Corbisiero. 2 years ago he looked to be on course to become the best loosehead in the world, unfortunately he hasn’t been able to regain such form after a series of injuries.
  • Danny Cipriani was one of the final players cut, but missed out to other, more specialist players, in the positions he can play. Unfortunate considering the type of flair he can bring to the team.

Squad

Front Row

Jamie George (Hooker, Saracens)
Rob Webber (Hooker, Bath)
Tom Youngs (Hooker, Leicester Tigers)
Kieran Brookes (Prop, Northampton Saints)
Dan Cole (Prop, Leicester Tigers)
Joe Marler (Prop, Harlequins)
Mako Vunipola (Prop, Saracens)
David Wilson (Prop, Bath)

Locks

George Kruis (Saracens)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Geoff Parling (Exeter Chiefs)

Back Row

James Haskell (Flanker, Wasps)
Chris Robshaw, Captain (Flanker, Harlequins)
Tom Wood (Flanker, Northampton Saints)
Ben Morgan (Number 8, Gloucester)
Billy Vunipola (Number 8, Saracens)

Scrumhalf

Danny Care (Harlequins)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Flyhalf

Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath)

Centres

Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Sam Burgess (Bath)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Back 3

Jonny May (Wing, Gloucester)
Jack Nowell (Wing, Exeter Chiefs)
Anthony Watson (Wing, Bath)
Mike Brown (Fullback, Harlequins)
Alex Goode (Fullback, Saracens)

Summary

England go into their Home World Cup a very different side to that which traveled to New Zealand four years ago. Stuart Lancaster has not just spent his tenure so far fostering a more mature and disciplined attitude amongst the team, but only 7 of the last World Cup’s 31 man squad return.

Despite not managing to win a 6 Nations title since his appointment to the team, Lancaster still helms a side that goes into this tournament as one of the favourites, even before taking into account home advantage. Although relatively inexperienced compared to some of the other Tier 1 teams, the young pack has shown it can be one of the best in the world and, when firing properly, can act as a launching pad for some very dangerous strike play from some new and exciting backs.

Pool A has been dubbed, by the media and the fans, the Pool of Death, and aptly so. Due to some poor performances by Wales in the run up to the seeding, along with some strong performances over the years since by Fiji, 4 of the teams in Pool A are currently ranked between 2nd (Australia) and 9th (Fiji). In fact, in the week prior to Rugby World Cup 2015 kicking off, Pool A includes 3 of the top 5 ranked sides in the world.
It’s difficult to say where England will finish before the knock out phase of the tournament. Whether first, second or third it is doubtful they will emerge unscathed, opposing not just talented teams, but particularly strong and physical teams.

Regardless of whether or not any injuries befall this team in the first four Test matches, if they do make it out of the Pool, the manner in which they do will likely dictate how they fair in the rest of the tournament more so than with Pools B through D.
A second place finish would likely entail going up against both South Africa, whom England haven’t beaten since 2006, and New Zealand, who have lost only three Test matches since the last RWC, before finally playing Ireland or Pool A’s winner.
Barring any upsets in Pool B, if England top their own they would go on to play Scotland or Samoa in the Quarter Finals before Ireland in the Semi Finals.

The Final on 31 October will more likely than not be played between one of the Southern Hemisphere’s best (NZ or SA) and one of the Northern Hemisphere’s best (Ireland).
Stuart Lancaster’s England side certainly has it in them to make the nation’s fourth Final. Hell, even win it and become the fourth team to win a second trophy. But it is by no means a given.

Fans from outside the country are not often ones to cheer for England, and were England to make the final the supporters would potentially be heavily outnumbered.
But…
This Rugby World Cup is being played at home, in England, and so if they do make the Final, perhaps the thousands of fans in Twickenham at the end of October might just carry them (and the Cup) home.

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