Are England overrated? With less than two weeks to go until the 2015 Rugby World Cup, that’s the question 2003 tournament winner Lawrence Dallaglio can’t seem to shake.
Captain Chris Robshaw will need to make home advantage count when England kick off the tournament on Friday 18th September against Fiji.
Read Dallaglio’s England predictions here, and find out more in this week’s Radio Times, including a free World Cup wall chart, expert analysis of Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and an interview with World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.
“England are second favourites, but I’ll be honest, that’s generous from the bookmakers. They’re ranked fifth in the world, and they’re only up there because of home advantage.
“At their best, at Twickenham, this England side are more than a match for anybody in the world. It’s an intimidating place to play, a place that inspires. Wales and Australia won’t just have to beat the team; they’ll have to beat the support.”
“Their consistency still sets the southern hemisphere teams apart. England and the other northern hemisphere sides have their high points, but they aren’t repeated game after game after game. That’s the challenge we set ourselves in 2003 – not just to beat New Zealand and Australia, but to find ways to beat them three, four times in a row.
“That is the sort of consistency you need to become world champions, and, if I’m honest, it’s what England are still striving for. On their day, they are fantastic. They need more of those days.”
“You cannot look past captain Chris Robshaw. England aren’t the most experienced in the competition; in fact, if there were to win the World Cup they would be the youngest on average ever to have won it. They’re going to need the more experienced players in the team to lead them, and Robshaw is certainly one of them.
“We were undoubtedly a much more experienced side when we won in 2003. The World Cup final for me was my 65th cap for England. It was Martin Johnson’s 84th, Jason Leonard’s 114th. There was a huge amount of experience in the squad, and in the pressure situations that counted for an awful lot. That’s not to say that England won’t win because they don’t have experienced players. They have a different set of advantages, like being at home.”
“I’m a believer, right. I’m a passionate Englishman. My heart wants them to win. But I’m not going to allow myself to get carried away by the romance of a home World Cup. The group is about momentum. The Fiji game is a strong enough test to prepare them for the Wales game. Whoever wins that deserves to go forwards with confidence; no team has ever lost a pool match and won a World Cup.”
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