The Real Reason England Fell at the First Hurdle in their Home World Cup
England were soundly beaten by Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, to ensure that they will not progress to the knockout rounds of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. This is the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup that a host nation has failed to progress beyond the group stages.
With one game left to play, the accusations are flying and talk of major shake ups in England’s playing and coaching line ups are rife. But England’s fate was sealed long before the final whistle blew on Saturday.
When the draw for this World Cup was made, Pool A was termed the group of death. No other group contained three of the world’s top ten sides, let alone the top six, with only two to qualify for the knockout stages. Add to that, Fiji‘s much improved form in the 15 a side game and it was obvious to the cognoscenti that this was, by far, the toughest group.
England had a nervous start against Fiji, but managed to seal a bonus point win, scoring four tries to one.
Wales came into the World Cup with several of their leading players injured and out of the tournament. They suffered more injuries before they met with England on the last Saturday in September.
This was the game England should have won. They were at home and Wales were the walking wounded.
Although England led for most of their clash with the Welsh Dragons, they never managed to pull away and secure a significant lead. Wales sealed the match with a late try, followed by a penalty from halfway, converted by Dan Biggar, who scored 23 of Wales’ 28 points on the day.
That result meant that England had to beat, world number three ranked, Australia in their penultimate group match.
While there were, once again, English nerves and less than spectacular performances, star Fullback Mike Brown took a kick over the line on his own 5 metre line, when he should have let it go for an English throw in and followed that up with a knock on in his own 22, when he had plenty of time to secure the pick up. This was not really about England losing the game, but about a magnificent win for Australia.
Australia’s back row of Hooper and Pocock were outstanding. As was their Fly Half Bernard Foley, who scored all of Australia’s points, barring the final try from Matt Giteau. And not many in green and gold were far behind them.
The fallacy of Australia not being able to scrum was firmly put to bed, with them dominating the English pack, especially in the latter stages of the match.
There have been upsets in this World Cup, but this really was not one of them. This was always going to be a tough call for England, but Australia shone and made it impossible.
On Saturday’s form, Australia must rank among the favourites to take the 2015 title.
South Africa have had a bumpy ride, suffering terrible form before the World Cup and losing their opening fixture to, minnows, Japan. Wales are decimated by injury. New Zealand have been les than convincing on their pool and we all know the All Blacks‘ history of choking in World Cups outside of their home country.
So did we see the next World Champions at Twickenham yesterday? It was certainly a performance worthy of them.
By Max Power
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