LONDON – England coach Stuart Lancaster believes home ground and firm grounding will help the hosts survive the pressure of the toughest pool at Rugby World Cup 2015.
England’s preparations for the tournament have been mixed. A 25-20 defeat by France in Paris in August exposed problems with their lineout and discipline at the breakdown.
However, Lancaster’s side bounced back to beat Ireland 21-13 in their final warm-up game at Twickenham on Saturday, entertaining the crowd with flamboyant tries from wingers Jonny May and Anthony Watson.
The coach believes that the standards set against Ireland illustrate what a tough proposition England will be at Twickenham in the Pool A matches against Fiji, Australia and Wales.
“If we play at Twickenham like we played against Ireland, we are going to be a hard team to beat, ” Lancaster said. “It was a big step up from France but we are keeping our feet on the ground. We are not jumping up and down because we know the real stuff is starting a week on Friday.”
Second-rows Geoff Parling and Courtney Lawes gave the hosts more security at the lineout against Ireland. The back three of May, Watson and full-back Mike Brown were particularly strong, with the 30-year-old Brown both secure under the high ball and a regular danger in attack.
“It was good to have an arm-wrestle like that in a key warm-up game,” scrum-half Ben Youngs said. “There are still areas we need to sharpen up but we are in a good place.”
Brown added: “That win has helped us. There is a buzz out there with the players and they have smiles on their faces. They are obviously enjoying it. But this squad is very grounded. There is still a lot of work to do.”
England face tough challenges in the pool stage against Wales and Australia, both beaten semi-finalists at RWC 2011 in New Zealand. England take on the Welsh on 26 September before facing the Wallabies on 3 October before the final pool clash with Uruguay on 10 October in Manchester.
But Lancaster says his squad are looking no further than their opening game against Fiji.
“To win a World Cup you have to produce consistent performance for seven games on the bounce, ” Lancaster said. “Everyone wants consistency. For me, we have the quarter-final stage from game one.”
- World Rugby