A nation was in sorrow when England crashed out of the Rugby World Cup. After making it to the final, the players carried the hopes of a country on their shoulders but couldn’t get over the finish line, but will they suffer in defeat and let this affect their game? Unlikely! With a typically English stiff upper lip, they’ll likely dismiss the disappointment and carry on playing at the top of their game, and they now have their eyes set on winning the 2020 Six Nations Championship.
The road to heartbreak
Ever since 2003, the England rugby team hasn’t had the same fanfare. No Jonny Wilkinson poster boy. No Martin Johnson-type colossus. But in 2019, the nation had a squad that was bringing rugby fans’ dreams to life. A younger team, just like the England football squad, with players that had been making waves for their respective clubs. The likes of Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and captain Owen Farrell showed that this younger rugby squad had the skills and talent to perform under Eddie Jones.
They all came together well in the group stages, with impressive scores such as 35-3 against Tonga, 45-7 against the United States, and 39-10 against Argentina. It didn’t stop there, as they then made their way to the knockout stages and delivered a breathtaking performance against Jones’ home country, Australia, triumphing with a 40-16. And then there was the semi-final against New Zealand...
It started with a V-shaped response
This was probably one of the most pivotal moments of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Could England beat the reigning champions? How would the team react to the All Blacks’ haka performance? There’s always a big conversation about the haka, whether it’s confrontational and should be a part of New Zealand’s cultural routine. James Haskell certainly had something to say about it in a pub-based interview beforehand. Perhaps the team took that to heart as the iconic V formation was all everyone was talking about. That was of course until England beat New Zealand 19-7.
Time to bounce back
Rather than dwelling on the defeat in the final, it is instead time to look towards the next big competition – the Six Nations. Despite their defeat, England are Six Nations favourites, and the bookies have already put them as 5/7 fancies to take the trophy home. Compare this to the odds for Ireland (3/1) and Wales (7/2), and it appears that England might have got this in the bag. The bookies are rarely wrong, so that’s saying something.
What can the team do next?
Starting from the top, England must decide on whether or not they’re keeping Eddie Jones as team coach. In just four years, he’s won two Six Nations, come runners-up in the World Cup and boasts a record of 39 wins from 51 games. However, before the World Cup started, there were rumours that if England didn’t make the semis then Jones would be out of there. So, what happens with a runner-up position? He did lead them to victory against New Zealand and was responsible for that V formation too, so he’s won the fans round. He’s proven himself in his coaching career, guiding Japan to victory over South Africa in what was considered the ‘biggest upset’ in rugby history. He’s also got the respect of the squad so is in a good place to continue leading them. Plus, there’s the fact that right now, there’s no one else that’s suitable for the job!
Going into the World Cup, the England team was one of the youngest squads with an average age of 26, and before the new year begins, this team can further improve their teamwork, skills and prepare for victory. It’ll now be a mixture of youth and experience, of which they most certainly now have, which could well see them clinch the Six Nations trophy. And who knows what will happen in the next World Cup.