The 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off this weekend. Host nation Japan, Australia, France and New Zealand have all won their opening games. Tomorrow, it’s England’s chance to show they are contenders.
England are in one of the toughest groups in the tournament with Argentina, France, USA and Tonga. Despite that, it does not stop them from being one of the favourites to win it all.
The Sports Gazette caught up with Brian Moore, ex-England international and 1991 World Cup finalist at fan events in two of Twickenham’s most popular pubs – the Prince Blucher and the Turk’s Head.
We asked Moore why people should watch England in this tournament and his answer was simple, “because they might win a World Cup. They have the best chance since 2003.”
Watching the England squad push themselves to the best of their ability, play the best they have ever played and with the belief of becoming World Champions, that is undeniably captivating, but Moore is also cautious as there are so many variables that could upset England’s path to the final.
France overcame Argentina in a hard fought battle with the South Americans showing incredible resilience after going 20-3 down at half time. They nearly won it at the death. South Africa showed similar grit in their second half performance against the All Blacks. Moore believes that this kind of resilience and overcoming adversity will be key to England lifting the William Webb Ellis Trophy in November.
“The problem with England is if they get in reverse, like they have in a couple of games in the past, can they sort it out? Have they learned their lessons?”
“Over the years with this squad, with these losses, have they got the maturity, the sort of people, who can lead the squad at an international level?” Moore emphasized.
If England get out of a their group they will most likely face Australia or Wales and they will have to win seven matches in a row to bring the glory home. The last time they did that was in 2016. That is seven, nail-biting, heart racing, edge of the seat matches to potentially watch.
“I don’t have any doubts that if England get on the front foot and play well, no one will want to play them” says Moore.
For more tactical insight from Brian Moore, read his interview with our Rugby Editor, Hamish Percy, which will be posted after England’s first match against Tonga.
You can listen to Moore’s podcast Full Contact here.
All four England fixtures for the group stage (all times BST):
Sun, 22nd September, England v Tonga, 11:15
Thu, 26th September, England v USA, 11:45
Sat, 5th October, England v Argentina, 09:00
Sat, 12th October, England v France, 09:15