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England legend says Steve Borthwick’s side won’t get out of the pool stages

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Monday Aug 21, 2023

Former England international Brian Moore has never been one to mince his words as both a player and now a commentator.

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Moore’s approach and opinions has made him somewhat of an enigma to the rugby community as a whole. Embodying strong feelings of either love or hate matched only by Marmite, there are few people who have a neutral feeling toward the former hooker.

Thus, this is part of what makes Moore so captivating, and as such, his regular column in the Telegraph is a must-read for Rugby fans looking for a no-nonsense opinion.

Writing today, Moore was back at it with an interesting take on England’s chances at the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Noting that England have what many consider to be a favourable draw at the tournament. Moore was not convinced that Steve Borthwick’s side would be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity to progress to the knockouts.

Explaining that three of England’s four opponents are not ranked inside the top ten of World Rugby’s rankings, Jones wrote: “England have been granted the easiest of draws in their World Cup pool. Their opponents are ranked seventh, 12th, 14th and 22nd in the world, and, under normal circumstances, England should expect to win the pool and progress with relative comfort. Let us put it this way, would you rather have Scotland’s draw against the first, fourth, 15th and 19th-ranked nations?”

Laying out England’s rather straightforward route to the quarterfinals, Moore went on to write that fans should not just expect to roll through their group.

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“Yet England fans are now having to consider that their team might not get out of the pool. If they do not beat Argentina in their opening game, they would face playing effective knockout rugby against Japan and Samoa. Ordinarily, both those teams would be 15 points the inferior but must now be feeling that on a good day, they might just pull off a surprise. The Argentines will approach their England game with some expectation, not just a great deal of hope.” Moore stated.

Continuing on, Moore brought up a statement from England captain Courtney Lawes with the Northampton Saints veteran said, “This is an interesting adversity because it’s an individual player and we’re not in the World Cup yet, so we can’t peak too early. That’s been the frustrating thing for us in the last two games – we just haven’t performed as well as we know we can.”

In response, Moore wrote, Well, there was certainly no sign of England peaking too early in Dublin. England fans have to hope that.”

Not adverse to an us against them mentality in his playing days, the former Harlequins player delved into England’s discipline issues which has seen captain Owen Farrell and number eight Billy Vunipola each receive a red card in successive weeks.

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“There appears to be something of a martyr complex around the England camp at the moment. This condition is marked by the feeling that no matter what you do, people misunderstand your attempts to help, or your efforts fall flat. England appears to feel that everyone is out to get Farrell, Billy Vunipola and, by extension, the whole squad.” Moore wrote.

Whilst this assessment might not sit well with some, it is hard to argue with Moore’s assessment of just where England finds themselves mere weeks out from a World Cup which, four years ago, many felt they would be in a position to win.

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