England is ‘team to avoid’ in 2015 draw
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Morale at the English camp is unusually high after scoring a famous 38-21 win over New Zealand All Blacks. REUTERS photo
Clive Woodward has said England’s stunning victory over New Zealand has made them the team all other sides will want to avoid in today’s draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Woodward, who coached England’s World Cup-winning side of 2003, also said the shock win had rescued Europe’s Six Nations from being regarded as a “second division” international tournament England produced one of the greatest performances ever seen at Twickenham to beat world champion New Zealand by a record 38-21 on Dec. 1 and so end the All Blacks’ 20-match unbeaten run.
Only once in its 498 Tests had New Zealand lost by a bigger margin - 28-7 against Australia in 1999, with England’s previous best winning margin over the All Blacks a 13-0 win at Twickenham back in 1936. New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France are the top four seeds in today’s draw but Woodward said none of them would want to be in the same pool as 2015 host England.
“It was a great, great victory for the English team,” Woodward told BBC Radio Five’s Sportsweek program yesterday. “The scoreline absolutely reflected the performance,” he added of an England victory that followed narrow defeats by Australia and South Africa in the preceding two weeks.
“They have some great players in there -- Joe Launchbury (lock), Tom Wood (blindside flanker), Chris Robshaw (captain and openside flanker) - who were world class [on Dec. 1]. “They had lost the previous two. This was a real David and Goliath effort. They came out and threw the kitchen sink and New Zealand got completely rattled. Every phase of the game they won,” insisted former England centre Woodward.
“It makes the draw fascinating given England have just demolished New Zealand. The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. That one result yesterday will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say for once ‘we want to keep away from England’.”
Britain’s press reveled in a win few pundits had predicted with Sunday Times rugby correspondent Stephen Jones, one of the sternest critics of coach Stuart Lancaster’s regime, proclaiming: “Hail the win from thin air.
“England stopped worshipping at an altar containing Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Israel Dagg and remembered that these and other deities are simply human.”
However, he added: “If you can be transformed from plodder to rocket in one week, presumably you can revert too. But England gave us much-needed evidence at an enraptured Twickenham of new life in their legs and hearts.”