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‘Really strange’: Robshaw picks England as one of three World Cup frontrunners

By Finn Morton
Former England captain Chris Robshaw has named the three teams he believes are “stepping up” as genuine Rugby World Cup frontrunners, and the All Blacks aren’t one of them.

Former England captain Chris Robshaw has named the three teams he believes are “stepping up” as genuine Rugby World Cup frontrunners, and the All Blacks aren’t one of them.

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With the opening round of the World Cup in the books, Robshaw has highlighted France, England and South Africa as the three teams to beat.

France beat the All Blacks on Friday, with sharpshooter Thomas Ramos practically kicking the hosts to an important win.

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England played almost the entirety of their Test against Argentina with 14 men, but the boot of flyhalf George Ford spurred Steve Borthwick’s men on to an emphatic 27-10 win in Marseille.

Then, on the final day of the first round, the world champion Springboks kicked off their quest for a second-consecutive title with a clinical 18-3 win over Scotland.

“The best thing about the first weekend is there were some big games whereas normally you wait one or two weeks to get into it,” Robshaw said on The Platform.

“Credit to France, they played (New Zealand) first up. I think that was a real show of intent to say, ‘You know what, we want to play the big boys and hit the ground running.’

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“I think their performances, especially after New Zealand scored after a minute and a half… their ability to control the ball and come back, that was brilliant.

Points Flow Chart

England win +17
Time in lead
55
Mins in lead
5
69%
% Of Game In Lead
6%
34%
Possession Last 10 min
66%
3
Points Last 10 min
7

“England looked really dominant considering their four warm-up games, and I’m not sure if you guys have followed much of them but we’ve only one out of four warm-up games.

“Went up against an Argentinian side that has been a good side in recent times and made them look terrible in all honest.

“Didn’t score a try which is, I think we still need to work on, but to win that comfortably with 14 men as well.

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“Then you look at South Africa. To beat Scotland pretty comfortably and in that pool where everyone said that was going to be a three-way thing, they kind of put Scotland back in their place.

“France, South Africa and England as the big sides really stepping up.”

The All Blacks lost their first-ever Rugby World Cup pool match last week as they fell to a disastrous 27-13 defeat to France.

This time last month, New Zealand was shaping up as the bookmakers’ favourites to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup following a sensational Rugby Championship campaign.

With coach Ian Foster at the helm, New Zealand surged to their fourth consecutive TRC crown following big wins over Argentina, South Africa and Australia.

But their form and World Cup prospects took a turn for the worst last month as they fell to a record defeat against the world champion Boks at Twickenham.

“I’m not surprised,” Robshaw added.

“It’s a really strange one because you guys, from our point of view in the northern hemisphere, didn’t have the best year last year and all of a sudden you win The Rugby Championship and everyone’s thinking, ‘These guys are back.’

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“Then Twickenham, what seemed like South Africa’s second home… to have the biggest defeat and then go to France… I didn’t realise you lost your first World Cup pool game ever.

“You guys are going to sail out the rest of that pool, get into a quarterfinal and yes you’ll have to play probably a South Africa now which is tough in itself.”

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Comments

10 Comments
R
Roger 308 days ago

Ridiculous report. I still don't see England as contenders simply because they are not performing. Call it what you like, call it "a masterclass" if you want to. I call it a monumental disaster. England haven't played well. And they beat an ailing Argentina team which anyone could have done. Heck South Africa had beaten them twice a month before. But penalty kicks ain't gonna cut it heading towards a round of pool matches. Peeps giving England too much credit and particularly against Japan. I say Japan gonna give them a show. Make 'em squirm. England is not going to win the title. They don't have the depth.

H
HOFer 308 days ago

Incredible disrespect towards Ireland

N
Northandsouth 308 days ago

I reckon the best teams are the ones I saw go well the last time I watched them. I reckon the team that not play good last 5min not so good. Profound insight

T
Tom 309 days ago

England have an easy draw, they could get to a semi. Australia are a dark horse though, I think England's inability to convert territory into points will be their undoing. If they can dominate Aussie physically it'll be a close match but Australia can score tries and England cant. You need a lot of pressure and a lot of 3 pointers to beat a side with real threats.

B
BR2B 309 days ago

We readers or these articles are all big fans who enjoy, beyond the game, figuring out what pundits and "specialists" think.
However, each game deploys its story, and I dont believe you can draw conclusions from a sudden dip or peak in form.
England are far from having solved all of their problems, alike NZ are far from having lost their ability of outplaying any side if the dice start rolling their way.
As an old observer, I never forget the high number of variables that can stem or upset performance, and which at the end of the day, explain why sport is fun because part of it remains unpredictable.

P
Poe 309 days ago

There is always a few quid in offering half assed opinions..

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Jon 4 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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