Continuing our series of articles looking at each team’s likely route through the Rugby World Cup, we turn to England and the teams they will face. The image below might serve as a timely reminder if you’re in danger of getting too carried away.
England’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures
Saturday 10th September, England v Argentina, Dunedin
Sunday 18th September, England v Georgia, Dunedin
Saturday 24th September, England v Romania, Dunedin
Saturday 1st October, England v Scotland, Auckland
The draw could not have been much kinder to Martin Johnson’s side. Argentina was one of the top four seeds when the draw was made according to the IRB rankings, and for England to avoid New Zealand, Australia and South Africa is very lucky indeed.
It’s still not an easy pool though, and both the Pumas and the Scots will cause England problems in the group stages. The first game is critical for England: beat Argentina, and they’ll be able to build momentum before the showdown with Scotland. A defeat on day 1 would be disastrous, and probably leave them needing to beat Scotland to qualify as runners-up.
The winners of this Pool (Pool B) will take on the runners-up in Pool A, which is likely to be France. The runners-up in this pool will play the winners of Pool A and a near-certain exit at the hands of New Zealand, which makes an unbeaten start all the more important.
England is the favourite to progress as pool winner, and France should hold no fears in the quarter-finals – they have a good record over the French in World Cups, and would fancy their chances of reaching the semis.
Again, there are several permutations for who they would face at this stage if they do overcome the French, but the odds suggest it would be Australia or Ireland. The good news is that it’s very unlikely to be South Africa or New Zealand, against whom England have had less success, which means another World Cup final is not out of the question – largely down to the luck of the draw.
How far do you think England will get in this year’s Rugby World Cup? Take the poll below and justify your selection in the comments below: