The New Zealand All Blacks defeated England 3-0 in their June International Series, but it looked like some cracks were appearing with the All Blacks being outplayed by an understrength England team for large parts of the first two tests, should we be worried? While the All Blacks made the most of their opportunities and did enough to win the series 3-0, it was hardly a convincing series win. Scott Donaldson has five reasons that we should be worried about England heading into the Rugby World Cup 2015.
We know that England has far more rugby players than New Zealand does, but the depth of talent England has at their disposal is impressive. England got closest to victory in the first test of the series despite not having players involved in the Aviva final. They now have enough depth to get them through a tournament like the Rugby World Cup where you can’t always play your top team. England seems to have developed depth in most positions now, given them plenty of options in a squad of over 30 players. The key will be if coach Stuart Lancaster keeps chopping and changing or going with a set top team.
This All Blacks squad is much older than most of their rivals. Both Australia and England look to have a number of exciting young players coming through the ranks. In the second test against England for example, only three All Blacks players were younger than their opponents. The Rugby World Cup 2015 will probably be the last hurrah for the likes of All Blacks legends like Keven Mealamu, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Tony Woodcock. Even players like Ben Smith, Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino and Liam Messam will be either nearly thirty or over 30. A large part of this All Blacks squad is over thirty years old. Sure, they are bringing through some young players, but it will be interesting to see if there is enough young blood to keep the squad looking fresh for the Rugby World Cup 2015. Traditionally, experience has won Rugby World Cups, but at the same time, there is a fine line between being at the top of the game and being over the hill. This current All Blacks team knows how to win, but will it continue? Just look at Spain at the FIFA World Cup. The true test of Steve Hansen’s ability will be having the ability to make the call if some of the go to All Blacks from the last decade are no longer worthy of wearing the All Blacks jersey.
Style of play
England coach Stuart Lancaster has changed the style of play that England now brings to the game. They have plenty of big ball running forwards and their backline includes some dangerous players like Manu Tuilagi and Marland Yarde. They were still guilty of not finishing off their opportunities against the All Blacks despite matching them for long periods of the first and second test especially. In saying this, England has been playing with more confidence than they had in the past and as this increases they will be difficult to beat.
England are the current Under 20 World Champions for the second year in a row. New Zealand previously had a mortgage on this title and it is interesting seeing how the next lot of young players will go in their transition into full England internationals.
Rugby World Cup 2015 Hosts
Looking ahead to the Rugby World Cup 2015, England are going to be difficult to beat. They will be playing at Twickenham in-front of 80,000 of their supporters who will give them a 10 percent boost which will take them to new levels of play and will make them difficult for even the All Blacks and Springboks to beat. You can’t underestimate the Twickenham factor.
Do you think the All Blacks are fine or do you see a team like England knocking them off their perch at the Rugby World Cup 2015?