Has 'pool of death' claimed first victim?

10:52 am on 28 September 2015

Is it the beginning of the end? England's rugby scribes have been sharpening their pencils, and scratching their heads, following the host nation's three-point loss to Wales yesterday.

Why the long face? England captain Chris Robshaw after defeat by Wales.

Why the long face? England captain Chris Robshaw after defeat by Wales. Photo: AFP

After dominating the game for 60 minutes England fell away in the fourth-quarter, losing 28-25 to a Welsh side which struggled at the set-piece and under the burden of a what should have been a near fatal injury count.

However, it's now England potentially facing the last rites. A must-win match against Australia looms this weekend (Sunday NZ time) as the pool of death lives up to its billing.

Andy Bull, writing in The Guardian said it was "a little early for obituaries".

"And as for those who want to start the post-mortem, they might stay their hand at least until the patient is dead. A three-point defeat, and a match against Australia to come, means there is life in England yet, for another week at least."

His colleague Paul Rees said "if England do fail to make the last eight, they will in effect have knocked themselves out after letting a double-figure lead slip".

"England... fell apart, in the end showing the uncertainty and lack of assurance that reflected an inconsistent selection policy: when they needed to find themselves, they could not."

Dean Ryan, a former England player and leading coach, echoed Rees' thoughts.

"The pack had the game won, but England lost because they don't know who they are.

"At half-time the wonder was that Wales were in the game: after 60 minutes England should have been out of sight and when the Welsh backline looked something like a Saturday night sick bay there should have been no way back."

In the Daily Telegraph Steve James hailed a "stunning, stunning victory for Wales", but added, simply, England "blew it".

Paul Hayward, in the same publication wrote England captain Chris Robshaw would likely regret his decision not to take a penalty kick, which would have tied the match, for "the rest of his life, unless England can beat Australia and restore their equilibrium".

"Without warning, pressure drags people off their path to glory."

The Daily Mail reached for the clichés, always a sign things are bad, writing England's hopes were "hanging by a thread" and on a "knife edge".

Sam Peters wrote that England "suffered a collective brain freeze".

"Make no mistake, this will be remembered as one of the great sporting chokes... Australia next week is make or break. Let's hope they engage their brains."


Wales' Gethin Jenkins celebrates at the final whistle.

Wales' Gethin Jenkins celebrates at the final whistle. Photo: PHOTOSPORT