Where did England go wrong at Rugby World Cup 2015?
Australia recorded their biggest-ever win over England at Twickenham to send the Rugby World Cup hosts out with a game of Pool A still to be played.
With Stuart Lancaster’s side becoming the first-ever host nation to fail to get out of their group in the history of this tournament, Coral rugby writers consider what went wrong.
Ill-discipline played a part in England’s downfall, both against neighbours Wales and the Wallabies. Penalties kicked proficiently first by Dan Biggar and then Aussies man of the match Bernard Foley were huge factors in back-to-back defeats.
Moreover, to think the Wallabies would be superior in the scrum never entered anyone’s head based on the evidence of the last British and Irish Lions tour Down Under.
With England terribly conceding turnovers, breakdown in play allowed Aussie skipper David Pocock and second row cohort Michael Hooper to stand out.
Hosts head coach Lancaster was complimentary of the former in the wake of the 33-13 loss. “I thought David Pocock was outstanding in the breakdown and he’s a special player.” he said.
Sam Burgess’ high tackle and an off-the-ball shoulder barge from Owen Farrell, with the latter infringement resulting in the fly half being sin-binned for the last 10 minutes, scuppered any ascendancy England were mounting after Anthony Watson’s try made things interesting.
Although it was Farrell who had to leave the field, commentators are bound to criticse Lancaster for his selection of rugby league convert Burgess, who could easily become a scapegoat for wider shortcomings.
Weak England defending, highlighted by the fact that tries were conceded in all three group games albeit with varying results, certainly played a role too.
Lancaster perhaps summed up where England ultimately fell short best of all in the aftermath of their defeat by the Aussies by simply identifying failure to get results.
“We didn’t perform well enough in the important games in our pool,” he added in a radio interview. “It was always going to be a tough pool.
“The last three years we’ve put in some pretty good performances, but on the day Australia were better. And that’s what World Cups are all about; on the day.”
Being unable to deliver when it matters with the weight of expectation that inevitably comes with hosting a major sporting event raises serious doubts about Lancaster’s future.
“Will I be staying behind them as their coach? It’s not for me to say,” he continued. “I’ve just got to get them ready for next week [against Uruguay].”
England’s early exit from the Rugby World Cup sees New Zealand cement their status as even-money favourites with Coral to lift the Webb Ellis cup, while neighbours Australia have been cut to 7/2 and South Africa (6/1) sit ahead of double Six Nations Winners Ireland (8/1) in the outright betting.