What constitutes success for England this Autumn?

Tom Curry

One year out from the Rugby World Cup, England should be looking to win every match this November. But would two or three out of four be good enough, given England’s year so far?

We should beat Japan. That’s a given, and although my South African colleagues tell me that I shouldn’t be too confident, I’m counting one win in the bag already.

Let’s take the others in order…

The Springboks are significantly improved under Rassie Erasmus, as they showed in South Africa over the summer, winning the first two Tests in the series before giving England a consolation victory in the dead rubber third test.

They then beat New Zealand in New Zealand, and should have won the return fixture at Loftus as well, and will arrive at Twickenham with plenty of confidence that they can mix it with the best, home or away.

England at home should have an advantage, but beset by injuries and with tomorrow’s questionable selection on its way, a win will be hard to come by.

Then it’s the All Blacks next up, and given their dominance of World Rugby these days, you can only hope for a result rather than expect one. By mid-November then, England could easily by 0 from 2.

Let’s say we’re 1 from 3 after Japan, and the Wallabies will arrive for the final match of the year. England have had the better of recent matches with Australia, but they tend to over-perform at Twickenham, and with further injuries inevitable in such a demanding schedule, England could be fielding a hugely inexperienced team and staring at a third defeat to end their annus horribilis.

In that scenario, even if England do beat a poor Australia side, would 2 wins out of 4 be a successful return?

However, an encouraging performance with a victory over South Africa could set England on a different course, and November could yet yield three or even four wins, and this is a fact that makes Saturday’s meeting with the Springboks so critical.

How many wins do England need to constitute success? Or is it more about performance than results?

24 thoughts on “What constitutes success for England this Autumn?

  1. Given the squad he’s picked i genuinely think success for England would be for the RFU to seriously consider giving EJ the boot. Seriously, if we win two out of five I’ll be amazed. Even three wins would only represent what we should be looking for anyway.
    We are less than a year out from the WC. We have no discernable playing style, Jones is putting square pegs in round holes, omitting some of his most experienced players just when we need them, mitchell is ostensibly a forwards coach not a backs coach, in form players are being ignored, and we’re on a downward spiral.
    If we get two wins then I still think he should go because for me, all the warnings about “three year Eddie” are coming to fruition. I know it can’t always be champagne and roses but compost and flat Tizer won’t get us anywhere.

    1. When the rugby is good we jump up and down in the stadiums and in our front rooms.When it changes out comes the executioners axe. History shows that nothing changes. English rugby has its cycles. Highs and lows. Unless there’s a major rethink about players roles between club and country and the number of gruelling games they play I think the status quo will continue. Being the England coach is rather like being one of Henry’s wives…..everything’s ok until you can’t produce the goods!

      1. JH, now there’s an idea l, off with his head! You’re generalising too much. Which cycle do you mean? If it’s the WC one, then there’s been only 1 up cycle. If it’s the 6N, then England have had their share of ups. However, with this guy in charge, he’s making fundaMENTAL errors of judgement with playing style (what is it?) & selection which seem obvious except to EJ himself. He’s actively contributing to a down cycle. 6 in a row ought to ring some warning bells & which brings me back to my 1st sentence.

        1. Hi Don P you could replace EJ with any of the England coaches of the last 50yrs. Theres generally success for a while followed by a down turn and yes it’s a generalisation but also the big picture. Let’s hope there’s an upturn next year and a lot of injury free players but don’t hold your breath.

          1. JH, won’t some of these replacement coaches be a bit long in the tooth by now. It’s no skin off my nose, but I see Jones as dysfunctional now. Been done to death, but some of his selections & omissions are incomprehensible, both on an individual player basis (e.g. Cipriani, Morgan) & collectively for the team as they disrupt or limit a cohesive playing style. For instance, again, Daly ought to have had a run out @ centre, a position of crucial England weakness, as he’s the 1 natural ball player in the team. He’s also played there for Wasps. The decision to not even try him out in midfield is surely negligent or displays
            a lack of vision necessary for an International head coach. Similar tale with Lancaster. Too much of an RFU yes man. The RFU need to choose more astutely. Get some out of house input in drawing up candidate selection criteria? Then, perhaps the cycles you mention may continue rolling up hill, instead of dipping down hill, as though this were the natural state of affairs.

            1. Hi Don P sounds like you are starting to agree with me. I think you ought to put yourself forward for us next shortlist. Whoever follows EJ will travel the same path. A great deal of celebration and pageantry and a number of wins followed by judicial proclamations and a beheading after number of losses. It’s just part of our DNA. Take the good times and enjoy them. Bear the bad times and wait for the next era. History repeating itself. I must say this conversation would be much better over a pint.

  2. I don’t believe that success is the number of wins, although it could be an indicator.

    Success for me would be to end the series with a record of playing consistent, winning rugby with a coherant game-plan in each game.

    The truth is that everyone will feel better if England win all 4 – obviously, and I would take a close win over an close defeat anytime, but the last year has seen England play poorly, and all I want to see is a team playing well, coherantly and putting themselves in a realistic position to win every match.

    1. Maybe so Blub, but you wouldn’t consider 3/4 losses (Japan should be a forgone?) a success would you? Even if England suddenly did start playing well? Wouldn’t cut
      It for the WC I think?

      1. Thank god for pragmatists Don! I can’t understand why so many fans cannot see the parlous state we are in. You guys must be delighted!

        1. Acre, a friend reckons I can look @ the 1/2 empty glass. I’ve also seen it stated that realism equates pessimism. However, the way I look @ is; would NZ would find Jones’s current selections & recent record acceptable. That’s how Jones must be viewed if England hope to win the WC which is EJ’s avowed intention.

          1. We are on the same page Don. I’d rather a healthy dose of realism than this fingers crossed,it’ll all be ok on the night approach.
            I’ve just said that ’03 is the yard stick for Jones or any other incumbent and right now, that is million miles from where we are.

        2. PS Acee, I don’t know about being delighted. I think NZ just concentrate on their own stuff, try to learn & improve, especially from a setback & have a rotated squad which can cover injuries as best they can. They are aware of their opponents’ abilities, but control what they can, concentrating on that, in both ‘D’ & attack.

      2. No, on the face of it I wouldn’t consider 3 losses a success.

        However, if the 3 defeats help to develop a style, or way of playing that develops into winnning teh 6 Nations and World Cup, then I believe that retrospectively we could look back at this Autumn series and consider it as relatively successful in the longer term

        The reality of course, is that this is all hypothetical, but i do believe the the scores are not the sole measures of success.

        1. Blub, ‘if the 3 defeats’ etc. 3 wins would likely do the trick more I’d have thought. England are short of time to start developing a successful playing style now. Not TOO late, but it would surely take a fresh approach pronto. The problem with this is Jones himself & he’s unlikely to be going anywhere any time soon. His ommisions & selections, which affect & potentially effect a style, have been contrary to facilitating this, & which have been ‘documented’ to death in these columns. OTOH, you are right to state that ‘scores are not the sole measure of success’. An effective playing style should produce more scores, which in turn should help with success.

      3. Hello Don P.I think you will agree with me. At international level there can only be one measure of success.

    2. Blub. let’s be practical. Right or not , the yardstick for any England head coach is 2003.
      By this same time back then England were the best team in the world. They had at least eight genuinely world class players , a system that worked, first class facilities, a team ethos, and a belief that no one would or could beat them.
      Today , right now , we haven’t got half of that even with a full strength squad. Now, that’s not ALL eddie’s doing but, the last 12 months have seen us regress to an alarming degree. I’m speaking solely for myself but i’ve had it with Ed.
      At the end of the day he has not delivered any of the things he pomised and I think the job is too big for him.

      1. Acee, I would partially agree with you. The yardstick of course is from 2003, and that is, England winning the World Cup.

        I would also agree that England do not appear to have 8 world class players.

  3. I don’t believe that success is the number of wins, although it could be an indicator.

    Success for me would be to end the series with a record of playing consistent, winning rugby with a coherant game-plan in each game.

    The truth is that everyone will feel better if England win all 4 – obviously, and I would take a close win over an close defeat anytime, but the last year has seen England play poorly, and all I want to see is a team playing well, coherently and putting themselves in a realistic position to win every match.

  4. Difficult to know what we’ll get.
    We were poor all last season with a very disappointing 6N’s and SA tour.
    Play like that again and its hard to see us winning more than one game.
    We could take some comfort from having a full strength squad available, except we don’t have that, or anything close to it. We are severely restricted in certain positions and are going to have to hope a few selections/combinations work out. This isnt helped by Jones selection roulette, where good players are routinely overlooked and mediocre ones retained.
    Ultimately it does come to wins and we are playing at home so –
    1 win. Unsatisfactory. Pressure on Jones.
    2 wins . Just about passable, assuming we are competitive in the other 2 games.
    3 wins. Cause for some celebration.
    4 wins . Arise Sir Eddie!

  5. England need 2 wins minimum to avoid disaster. 3 would help restore some faith & belief. 4 would be ‘over the moon Jim, over the moon’.

  6. Again I agree with Don and Acee. I can’t help but feel given the utter rubbish Eddie has spouted this year that England would be better off without him now. People keep saying that we have no chance of winning the world cup if we do that but quite frankly if we go on like this we will go out in the pool stages again.
    Eddie is a particular kind of coach who can come in and do a good job over the short term. After that he really loses his way and seems to get utterly bound up with his own ego.
    We are a million miles off where the 03 team were and all 3 of Ireland, Wales and Scotland are in way better shape than us.

  7. A succes would be to win 2/4, but more important to rebrand the way England play. The forwards have had a hard time given injuries, but finding a good pairing with the centres and finally deciding who will stear the attack with the nr. 10 on it’s back would be a step in the right direction. Finally having a ‘gameplan’ again, sort of speak. And knowing who they players are you want to see come of a bench tot either close a match out or tot try and turns things around at the end.

    For the forwards: having a vague idea of how you want your backrow tot play (and what kind of player you want to see wearing ‘6’,’7′ or ‘8’) would be a massive step in the right direction. Winning is less important than reinventing the way you want to play and who you want to see executiong that idea.

    1. Armandus, the word ‘vague’ is problematic. The forwards and backs for that matter, need clarity about their roles within a game plan. Then they have a better chance of success. Then success might be more than 2 out of 4. Yr main points make sense though.


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