6 Oct 2015

An all-time English rugby disaster

10:59 am on 6 October 2015

OPINION: Go home England. Oh wait, you already are.

England captain Chris Robshaw leaves the pitch following his team's loss to Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

England captain Chris Robshaw leaves the pitch following his team's loss to Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

Dunkirk. Bannockburn. Victoria Beckham's solo career.

Now you can add the 2015 Rugby World Cup to the list of all-time English disasters.

They were unlucky last week against the Welsh, but there'll be no such forgiveness given this time as they were outclassed by a Wallaby team that may as well have been from a different planet in the first half. That sublime first 40 minutes set up the Aussies for a war of attrition in the second, establishing a lead that was always going to be too much for the English to come back from.

The visitors really should've been up by a try in the opening couple of minutes. Israel Folau held onto the ball for just a little bit too long during a huge overlap, having it jolted out by his opposite Mike Brown. However, it was a sign of things to come as the Wallabies dominated possession and territory.

no caption

Foley's opening try Photo: Supplied

Bernard Foley's slick opening try really showed the gulf in skills between the two sides, Sekope Kepu's crucial offload giving the first-five the time and space he needed to put the first nail in the coffin.

The English were left cursing Rob Horne's injury shortly after, the Wallaby winger's departure meant Kurtley Beale was brought on about half an hour before he should have been. His first contribution was to gash the English defence on a cutback play, sending Foley over again and pushing the gap out to 14 points.

no caption

Foley goes in again Photo: Supplied

The second half saw the English come finally start to play like a team that was in danger of suffering the biggest embarrassment in their rugby history. Anthony Watson, who was probably their best player on the field, hit back and closed the gap. But all this managed to do was put any thoughts of flashiness out of the Wallabies' minds as they began to grind down the English and silence the 82,000 crowd.

no caption

Sam Burgess goes high on Matt Giteau Photo: supplied

It wouldn't be an RWC 2015 game without a bit of TMO controversy, and with 10 minutes to go referee Roman Poite should've shown two cards following an incident in the midfield. Owen Farrell ended up leaving the field with a yellow due to an early shot on Michael Hooper, but Sam Burgess deserved a red for his ridiculous high shot on Matt Giteau. It seems that TMO Shaun Veldsman is only capable of making one decision at a time, because Burgess managed to stay on the park despite committing the far worse crime.

It was fitting that Foley got the final say, nailing the conversion of Giteau's try in the corner. This was a career-defining performance from the New South Wales first five, it probably means that the days of booing Quade Cooper are over for boorish All Black fans.

no caption

Giteau seals the deal Photo: Supplied

The English had no answer to the fetching abilities of Michael Hooper and David Pocock, their effectiveness may see a change in attitude toward loose forward selection through the top levels of the game. Simply picking brutish ball runners at No.6 and No.8 probably won't be good enough anymore, and it was exposed by the lack of penetration by the English back row. Bizarrely, English lock Joe Launchbury was named Man Of The Match, doesn't he look happy:

So the English now suffer the ignominy of being bundled out of their own World Cup. They'll be torched by their press (rightfully so), coach Stuart Lancaster will get fired and now every All Black fan can have a comeback when an Englishman accuses us of 'only being able to win a World Cup at home'. Turns out it's not as easy as you thought, was it boys?

The Benchwarmer's Comment logo

Jamie 'The Benchwarmer' Wall grew up in Wellington and enjoyed a stunningly mediocre rugby career in which the sole highlight was a seat on the bench for his club's premier side. He's enjoyed far more success spouting his viewpoints on the game to anyone who'll care to listen.

The Benchwarmer's Comment will run throughout the World Cup on radionz.co.nz

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.