David Campese has slammed the system behind next year’s Rugby World Cup which sees England facing a massive challenge to get out of their pool.

Stuart Lancaster’s side were drawn alongside Australia and Wales off the back of international rankings almost three years prior to the tournament.

On Saturday, England and Australia come face to face in what is effectively a World Cup warm-up at Twickenham and Campese said: “It’s a bit like having Brazil, Argentina and Germany in the same pool at the football World Cup. It just would not happen.

“It’s bizarre, it’s madness and it’s a joke. It means you cannot afford a single slip-up and I just hope Australia make it through.”

Australia have had a mixed tour of the northern hemisphere, with narrow wins against the Barbarians and Wales but also tight defeats against France and Ireland.


England, meanwhile, are keen to avoid a third defeat of the autumn by southern hemisphere opposition, having already succumbed to both New Zealand and South Africa.

Campese, the former Australia wing and World Cup-winner, is renowned for his baiting of England but admitted he had been impressed by Lancaster and “the stability England have”, while he would also like to see Danny Cipriani back in the team.

“Danny’s still a really good player,” he said. “He’s one of those unpredictable talents but the hardest thing is to understand how someone like that plays as it’s not to a script. People don’t like unpredictability.”

For all his talent, Cipriani has won just eight caps although he made two brief appearance for England during the summer tour of New Zealand.

Campese, who likened Cipriani to another mercurial playing talent from his own era, Stuart Barnes, argued that were the Sale playmaker Australian, he may well have been given more of a chance at international level.


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