FOLLOWING England’s crushing defeat to Wales on Saturday 26th September, the host nation’s World Cup fate is far less certain than it once seemed. The country appears to be furiously divided between those who believe England can still do it and those who are already wishing them better luck next time. The Gryphon it seems is no more partial to having a divided opinion than an average public house. Gryphon writer Matthew Norman and Sport editors Alex Bowmer and James Candler give their respective thoughts on the issue.
Not our tournament
England’s chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy for the second time is over after their loss to Wales last Saturday.
Coming into the tournament with the hopes of a nation on their shoulders, England managed a solid 35-11 win over Fiji in the opening fixture. However, Stuart Lancaster’s men knew they still had it all to do with rugby powerhouses Wales and Australia both still to play. But since a heavily injury-stricken Wales pulled off one of their nation’s most dramatic wins over the hosts in Welsh history, England are left hanging by a thread – a thread that will soon snap.
England have to beat Australia on Saturday. Simple as that. Unfortunately for all you England diehards, this isn’t going to happen. Australia are coming into Saturday’s clash off the back of solid wins over Fiji and Uruguay and also after winning The Rugby Championship earlier this year. England have now lost three times in 2015 and all to nations ranked lower than the Wallabies in the World Rankings at the start of the tournament.
With the likes of Michael Hooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau, Australia ooze world-class quality all over the pitch. Whilst England too may have some world class players of their own, all the pressure is on them. Most thought England would make it through the “group of death” but now they’re in disarray. Australia are comfortably one of the best teams in the world right now and having nothing to lose will allow them to play expansive, exciting rugby. The sort that will comfortably overpower an underperforming England and see them crashing out of their own World Cup at the first hurdle.
In Robshaw we trust
It may be difficult to be optimistic given the heartbreaking defeat last Saturday, but England are definitely still in with a decent shout of progressing from Pool A. There is still time for England to claw their way back into contention and for their rivals to slip up.
Despite Wales emerging victorious, they paid a heavy price, with Scott Williams and Hallam Amos sustaining tournament-ending injuries. England clearly have to beat Australia to have a chance of progressing, but if they manage it, they know
that they will be in an ideal position to capitalise on any dropped points from the two teams above them. Wales will face the Wallabies near the end of the group stage, and one (or both) of these teams will drop points.
Australia were not as convincing as us against Fiji, and were unable to claim a bonus point, something that England managed against the Pacific Island outfit. With the vision and flair that the returning Jonathan Joseph offers in attack, England (ar
guably) will pose a far greater threat than they did against Wales and let us not forget that historically, Australia do not fare well against the English, with Lancaster’s side having won the last two encounters, which were both held at Twickenham.
While some of Lancaster’s substitutions were criticised in the press, England have strength-in-depth and are more than capable of defeating their arch-rivals.
Matthew Norman, James Candler and Alex Bowmer
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