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England have rolled the dice. After seven years, they called it quits with Head Coach Eddie Jones last November following a rollercoaster relationship. Just ten months and nine games out from a World Cup, the RFU ripped up his contract and started again. Steve Borthwick was the 'Chosen One'. England had already been finessing their succession plan for a number of years. The Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby was the name they came up with. Borthwick isn't the first former lock who has skippered England to take charge. The RFU tried the same with Martin Johnson for the 2011 World Cup, however unlike the untested Johnson, success has followed Borthwick on his coaching career with a Premiership title under Leicester and successful stints with Japan and England as an assistant coach. Whether Borthwick can transform England into a World Cup winning side with nine matches of preparation is a different question. The circumstances are not easy. When he took the job from his mentor, Borthwick told the media England "weren't good at anything".
The founders of rugby are perennial underachievers with only one World Cup victory in nine tournaments. Jonny Wilkinson's extra time drop goal in 2003 has been immortalised in English sporting greatness. Despite the wealth of resources and the depth of the playing pool, England haven't seen much return since then. They were also faced with the humiliating situation of being the only host nation to be knocked out of a pool stage in the 2015 tournament. However, they came close to returning to the summit of rugby's Everest back in 2019 after losing to South Africa in the final.
Borthwick will be hoping to defeat the odds this year. England have been handed an easier pool of Argentina, Japan, Samoa and Chile. This should allow the red roses time to build their game plan. Pivotal to this will be England captain, Owen Farrell, who is expected to start at fly half. Farrell which shape England's attack which will likely involve a high degree of kicking as well as a focus around the set piece. Young fullback, Freddie Steward, is considered one of the best under the high ball in the world. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this side. If they can make the quarters, England will likely come up against Wales or Australia who are in the exact same disarray as England having also replaced their Head Coaches. An England vs Australia quarter final would make the perfect narrative as the likes of Farrell, Itoje and Lawes would come up against former Head Coach, Eddie Jones.
World Cup Titles
Best RWC Finish
World Rugby Ranking
(as of 27th August)
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