England’s captain and coach will need to be at their best if they are to fulfil their potential as title contenders and not succumb to pressures that have led to dramatic collapses in the past.
Flyhalf Owen Farrell was named England captain after hooker Dylan Hartley – who wore the armband in 2016 and 2017 – was ruled out of the 2018 tour to South Africa through injury. Since then, Farrell has stayed on as captain, leading them to a second-place finish in the Six Nations in 2019. The 27-year-old is hitting his prime and is the heartbeat of this England side. His peerless kicking off the tee will be key if England are to progress.
Eddie Jones succeeded Stuart Lancaster after England’s embarrassing performance at the 2015 World Cup, where they fell out at the group stages. The Australian was due to coach the Stormers but was lured by a big-money contract, becoming England’s first foreign coach. His first years were synonymous with success, and he enters the tournament as one of the most experienced coaches, having been in charge of Australia in 2003, assisting Jake White’s Springboks in 2007 and presiding over Japan in 2015.
Jones has a win ratio hovering around the 80% mark, the highest of any England head coach, while only Lancaster and Sir Clive Woodward have had longer tenures in the professional era. While he is contracted until 2021, Jones could well be judged on the outcome of this tournament, with high expectations shadowing every England move.
17 – The number of England squad members who have featured at a previous World Cup
– This is a snippet from October issue of SA Rugby magazine that previews every team at the World Cup, now on sale!
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