The biggest England v Australia game since the 2003 World Cup Final is upon us this Saturday (3rd October). For one team the opportunity to knock out a World Cup nemesis as well as continue their serene progress to the Quarter Finals, for the other the embarrassment of being knocked out of their OWN home tournament in the Pool stages and the utter SHAME of being the first host nation to not make the knockout phase of the Rugby World Cup ie ALL or NOTHING.
Australia look ominous, all their squad have had a run out in their two matches against Fiji and Uruguay. Michael Cheika has a strong squad to choose from with the second string providing some VERY promising performances against the South Americans in their 65-3 win, giving the former Leinster man ample options if changes are needed to the so called first XV from their opening match against the South Sea Islanders. The scary thing is the Wallabies will be playing under minimal pressure in my opinion, as they have another match to secure their path to the knockout phase and have little to lose. They have looked very slick and have a back line that can puncture any defence. Their usual forward weakness (especially in scrums) seems to be a thing of the past, after the recruitment of Argentinian legend Mario Ledesma. They have been solid in set piece plays and with a back three of Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and the returning David Pocock they have arguably the best back three in the world and that’s not even mentioning the very promising Sean McMahon in reserve. The current Rugby Championship holders go to Twickenham as favourites (no matter what the bookies say) and would love nothing better than to avenge Marseille in 2007 let alone that heady night in Sydney where Jonny broke the then hosts hearts. Now they hope to make it their turn to be party pooper again at the home of English Rugby 24 years after the final in 1991.
COACH AND CAPTAIN UNDER MASSIVE PRESSURE
England are desperate and I mean DESPERATE. When the World Cup draw was made in 2012 and they were drawn with Wales and Australia then Fiji and Uruguay joined them – they must have felt sick, but surely the thought is that we are at home, we are good team and that we can get through the Pool. Unfortunately nearly three years later, despite devising the perfect fixture schedule (in regards order of games and rest periods) they find themselves in the last chance saloon which for me is unforgivable, bearing in mind the amount of money and the set up that the Rugby Football Union have. Head Coach, Stuart ‘The Bridesmaid’ Lancaster and Chris ‘Captain Cock Up’ Robshaw dare not get it wrong after they somehow lost to a Welsh team who would just not let go and deservedly left Twickenham last week as the victors in a dramatic and epic game. They say the line has been drawn so whatever comes after needs to produce a win – simple as – NO EXCUSES.
In case of the worst
If England do lose against Australia, personally I feel Lancaster should not be fired – HE SHOULD RESIGN – with an agreed payoff – he has not been a complete failure after all, we have a young team who are progressing but too slowly as the problem is they keep losing matches that matter and the Cumbrian has had four years and been given absolutely everything to achieve and things have been set up perfectly for him. He prides himself on having teams who are disciplined off and on the pitch – unfortunately most listened off the green baize but are still giving them away constantly during matches like they are not learning or as I see it not playing for the coach or even the captain on the pitch. Talking of the so called leader of the players, Chris Robshaw, whilst doing a decent job, when it really mattered he also has been found wanting none more so than last week. Arguably that was not the only reason England lost (there were lots of others) but when you needed the skipper to step up and make an informed decision in the heat of the battle HE FAILED, simple as and not for the first time either (2012 tests against Australia and South Africa were examples of his poor leadership under pressure).
Damp Squib – lets hope not (well if you support England anyways)
So come circa 10pm on Saturday 3rd October – Twickenham could well be a sea of cheering attendees with ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ being sang by jubilant fans. However it could also be quiet place punctuated by cheering Aussie’s and I very much suspect laughing fans from every other major rugby playing nation, it would not even surprise me if even the odd New Zealander had a wry smile. England know if they beat Australia and Uruguay (gaining at least one bonus point in addition) they will very likely get out of the Pool, one things for sure knockout Rugby has started a week early for the hosts.
On the positive side
There is some hope as England have beaten Australia on their last two visits to Twickenham (they have actually been victorious in four of their last five meetings) but that counts for nothing really and defeat means the 2003 champions would have blown a huge opportunity on home soil to at least make the final as the draw was nicely skewed for them if they topped their Pool. Dealing with the big pressure on them will be crucial – step up time to all the lads – especially in the coaching box and the captain on the pitch. Glorious failure is NOT an option.
Let me know what you think
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