Rugby World Cup – England ready to fire in Japan

With the Rugby World Cup less than a fortnight away Charlie Inglefield looks at where England stand heading into the tournament.

Joe Marchant takes his chance

The last four warm-ups have served their purpose for England. They are coming to the boil nicely even if Italy was a bit of a stop-start affair.

Despite a disjointed display, England managed to nil a feisty Italian outfit, which will please England’s management. If anything, the big positive for England over Italy was the display of Harlequins’ Joe Marchant.

Not even in the squad, Marchant still took his opportunity to further impress Eddie Jones. A wonderful try which showed off Marchant’s footwork and skill was just reward for his performance.

If Jack Nowell falls further behind on his ankle injury then Marchant should step up.

England’s new boys impress

What the warm-up games have shown us is that England has talent and ability in reserve.  Lewis Ludlam, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Joe Marchant all enhanced their reputations.

Ludlam and Cowan-Dickie both showed that they are capable of making the grade in the two Welsh games. Ludlam bares an uncanny resemblance to Steffon Armitage, who has been one of England more unluckier forwards over the last decade.

Ludlam is not big by modern-day rugby standards but he is explosive, fearless and is thirsty to learn. All useful attributes to succeed at the highest level.

Cowan-Dickie has been around England’s squad for a few years and has been excellent when called upon. The loss of Dylan Hartley was a blow but Cowan-Dickie is a more than able back-up to Jamie George.

Joe Marchant deserves a mention here even though he is not in the final squad make-up.

Ireland demolition shows the potential

Yes, warm-up games bare no resemblance to the games at the World Cup but they are useful if approached the right way.

England seemed to be well prepared throughout this mini-summer series, even in defeat to the Welsh in Cardiff. They also showed differing game-plans and therefore not so reliant on their power game.

This was particularly evident against the Irish at Twickenham. 16 offloads tell a story of how Jones is trying to adapt England and especially so in the forwards.

We saw how good Kyle Sinckler was in the Six Nations but he is getting into the world-class category. His pass to Sam Underhill to send Tom Curry in against Ireland was sublime.

One would think that on the warm running grounds in Japan, that the combination of power and the offload could be mightily useful.

Injuries to Nowell and Vunipola

Injuries particularly last-minute are what every international coach dreads before a big tournament. So, England will sweat on the fitness of two of their key players, Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell.

Both are deemed crucial to England and according to Jones are worth the risk. Italy was physical on Friday night and the bruises were evident with Sinckler also hobbling off.

England does have strength in depth in the front row to cover for Vunipola. The continuing emergence of Ellis Genge is another bonus given the way he thundered around St. James’ Park.

England set to go far

England will travel to Japan on Sunday in good spirits. Three wins out of four tough games in hot conditions is a job well done.

Eddie Jones has options, both in the gameplan and with the selections. He has key players like Manu Tuilagi and Joe Cokanasiga in good form.

Jones also has x-factor players to call upon which in a Rugby World Cup campaign is vital.

Joe Cokanasiga could be one of the superstars to come out of the World Cup and he will love the warm conditions. Add in Eddie Jones’ knowledge of Japan and England really should be confident of going far.


“Main photo credit”

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