Former England hooker Brian Moore says the top northern hemisphere teams can expect, rather than hope, to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Over the past few weeks, England beat the Springboks and pushed the All Blacks close, Wales ended a long run of losses against the Wallabies, and Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time at home.
Writing in his column for The Telegraph, Moore said the results have given these nations the belief that they can challenge for rugby’s top prize.
‘The difference between believing something and knowing it is subtle, but crucial. If you ask any of the England World Cup-winning team of 2003 what made the crucial difference to their approach to the campaign, they will tell you it was vital that before they went into the tournament, they won their first Six Nations Grand Slam and then beat Australia and New Zealand away from home.
‘In recent seasons, the Irish have, one by one, removed long-standing failures from their record. First, it was the Six Nations Grand Slam, then beating New Zealand, and on Saturday the first win at home over the Kiwis.
‘Wales’ first win in umpteen games against Australia reverses years of failure, and though the Aussie team is in a state of flux, that does not matter to the Welsh players. In Edinburgh on Saturday, Scotland lost narrowly to South Africa, but gone was the feeling of the plucky little nation of underdogs who had gone close.
‘And so to England, hampered by a long list of injuries to key players, they should now expect to end the autumn with three wins out of four, with the sole loss to the All Blacks by a point. Several players, with Kyle Sinckler being just one example, have started to contribute positively, rather than trying just not to make mistakes.’
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