Anorak News | England Expects

England Expects

by | 23rd, June 2003

‘GREAT teams are measured, in the end, by what they win and this England rugby team so far has only one Six Nations grand slam and a couple of Six Nations championships to its credit.

Winner takes all

In 1999, Clive Woodward asked to be measured by the team’s performance in the World Cup and was duly pilloried when England lost to South Africa in the quarter-final.

But after England’s back-to-back victories in New Zealand and Australia, even the notoriously partisan antipodean press have had to admit that this England side is genuinely world-class.

What is more, Jeff Probyn, the Fred Trueman of English rugby, had to admit that this side was as good as, even better than, the side in which he played in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The fact is that this current side are a class above that side, partly as a result of professionalism, partly as a result of the coaching and partly because they are a far more complete XV.

However, that side did have the distinction of winning three grand slams and reaching the final of the World Cup in 1991.

Whether this side are the best side in the world is a moot point. If they don’t win the World Cup, their No.1 ranking at the moment is an irrelevance.

As the Will Carling side would acknowledge, winning is what counts.

And the bookies, who are in most instances a shrewder judge than world rankings, are still not convinced.

England remain second favourites for the World Cup behind the All Blacks – and deservedly so.

There is no doubt that both they and Australia will improve for the Tri-Nations series coming up before October.

England, on the other hand, have only three internationals – two against France; one against Wales – all of which are likely to be used to experiment with fringe players, before they kick off against South Africa.

However, one thing this England side has got is a belief in itself – a belief that can only have been strengthened by the last two weekends.

It is still a very tall order for England to win the World Cup in the southern hemisphere, but at least we know for sure now that this side is capable of doing so.

And, if nothing else, this tour has achieved one thing – it has at last made the arrogant Aussies and Kiwis sit up and take notice of what is without doubt a very good rugby side.

Posted: 23rd, June 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink