News Update


Improvements under Borthwick made England the finest it has ever been, according to Matt Dawson

They were under a lot of pressure going into 2018 Rugby World Cup after three disappointing losses in four warm-up Tests.

After those defeats to Wales, Ireland, and Fiji, it must have been quite difficult for the players to continue praising the team’s progress, their camaraderie, and the culture.

On Friday, Jonny May essentially admitted it. He claimed that he had “dreaded” the effect that Argentina’s victory in England’s opening game would have had on the mood in the camp.

England advances to the quarterfinals; “Truth hard to find in inkblot Test,” according to the Rugby Union Daily podcast
Ford believes it’s difficult to play in greasy circumstances.
He hasn’t been forced to find out.

With two victories and nine points, England has a very certain path out of Pool D and into the quarterfinals.

They are substantially better off than we had anticipated or feared when this campaign began. That is definitely a plus.

And it goes beyond the results in the headlines. There are additional causes for hope when you examine the specifics of their performance against Japan.

Courtney Lawes helps Joe Marchant celebrate his try after scoring for England.
A last-second try by Joe Marchant gave England a bonus-point victory over Japan.
The team’s performance against Japan in Nice’s second half was at its best during Steve Borthwick’s nine-month tenure as coach.

After making too many mistakes in the first half and appearing to follow a predetermined script of practice moves and attacking kicks, they significantly improved after the break.

They switched into another gear with more tempo, focus, and clarity in their play, perhaps in response to whatever Borthwick had said or Japan’s own looser style.

They scored three tries, won the second half 21-3, and appeared to be having fun after figuring out a style that worked for them.

Performances by Earl and Ludlam expand the alternatives for the back row.
There are, of course, restrictions.

In the second half, Japan grew drained quickly.

When England’s forward runners are pushed over the gainline rather than being permitted to continually cross it, they will face opponents against whom yards are more difficult to gain.

The team’s post-game debrief will center on their first half blunders. They won’t be able to miss as many chances and still have more come their way while playing top clubs. They would pay a price for their inefficiency.

However, I have a lot of optimism in what we observed and the progress the team has made.

Earlier this year, Ben Earl had a minor role for England. His sole contributions to the Six Nations were a few cameos off the bench. It appears that it has really paid off that Borthwick took him down and explained the areas in which he wanted to see progress.

Earl campaigned tirelessly against the Brave Blossoms. A game where he could have an influence up close and also find space out wide, where his pace and hands are a differentiator, was one that really suited him.

Because Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola did not start this game, Lewis Ludlam’s effort rate was great beside him in the back row, showing that there is true depth there.

In my opinion, Alex Mitchell developed along with the rest of the team, and by the second half, he was effectively attacking the edges and darting blind.

Marcus Smith, who replaced George Ford for 11 minutes, was vivacious and dangerous while controlling the backline. George Ford had another strong performance.

Now, Borthwick must strike a balance between keeping his team’s momentum and team management.

Ben Earl runs quickly away from a tackler from Japan.
In this year’s Six Nations, Ben Earl was only able to make two appearances as a second-half replacement, but he has made a strong case to start.
Invest in squad depth or keep the momentum going?
The tournament’s bottom-ranked squad, Chile, will be England’s next opponent.

There is a case to be made for running the same lineup again and giving combinations as much time as possible to gel before the knockout phases. After all, you only truly stumbled on a settled line-up through circumstances and these first two pool games.

But I would act in the other way.

I would start everyone who hasn’t yet taken the field against Chile on Saturday.

The key decision is where he places suspended actor Owen Farrell, who was due to meet with Argentina and Japan.

But it’s easy for me. Ford has secured the fly-half position, thus Farrell’s only chance of being selected as the first-choice starter is in midfield. At position 12, he ought to make his debut against Chile and perform well.

Hooker Others who have not yet had any playing time this season and will next weekend include Jack Walker, prop Bevan Rodd, second row David Ribbans, back row Jack Willis, wings Henry Arundell and Max Malins, and second row David Ribbans.

Everyone’s involvement and investment are essential. That fosters the team spirit that is so crucial in conference rooms and on the practice fields during a protracted tournament campaign.

And during the course of seven weeks of Test rugby, injuries will occur and the best-laid plans will go awry.

Ben Spencer played for England in the most recent Rugby World Cup championship match. Just a few days prior, he had been airlifted out due to Willi Heinz’s injuries.

You never know who you will need to rely on. Additionally, if you made an investment in those unimportant players in the early stages of the pool, it can pay off later on in the campaign when the stakes are much larger.


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