Why defeat in Cardiff could be the best possible outcome for England's World Cup campaign

The above headline may be seen as counterintuitive and even downright absurd to many, and understandably so, but England may end up choosing between a booming Six Nations Grand Slam and a successful World Cup campaign this year.


By Alistair Stokes
21st February
By Alistair Stokes
21st February

The above headline may be seen as counterintuitive and even downright absurd to many, and understandably so, but England may end up choosing between a booming Six Nations Grand Slam and a successful World Cup campaign this year.

England are on a roll, trundling up and over their opposition this Six Nations at an alarming rate for every World Cup side to witness; the All Blacks excluded. On form, this is the most convincing looking and finely balanced side since the fateful 2003 team led by Martin Johnson and Johnny Wilkinson, outdoing their 2016 selves by some margin.

However, there may be a finite level of success Eddie Jones' squad can achieve within set time periods. Since taking over following the near-apocalyptic home World Cup in 2015, Jones has guided the Rose to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. A disastrous fifth-place finish in the Six Nations last year followed two back-to-back Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam and an Australian whitewash. And in true rollercoaster fashion, England are once again cranking up the gears, rising higher and higher following a sharp drop towards the cold hard earth in 2018. The pattern is clear to see.

It seems that England's and Jones' greatest success has come following previously unimagined cataclysm, feeding their performances with the thick black coal of disappointment left to gather in the belly of every Englishman. 2016 and parts of 2017 were fired by the 2015 RWC, and from all appearances 2019 has been driven by their calamitous 2017/18 season.

If the last three years are anything to go by, England possess finite storage of mental anguish to unleash upon Test opposition. And if the squad find themselves spent from a psychological standpoint after storming to an all-dominant Six Nations campaign, their World Cup march may prove less than fruitful.

Now, there is every chance this side will prove resilient enough to learn from their seesaw fortunes and carry their spectacular Six Nations form into the World Cup. However, recent history does not smile favourably upon this particular hope.

A loss in Cardiff this weekend to Warren Gatland's charges could be the best possible outcome for England's tournament in Japan later this year. Sometimes, having a point to prove can be infinitely more potent a form of motivation than outdoing your previous best.

The above headline may be seen as counterintuitive and even downright absurd to many, and understandably so, but England may end up choosing between a booming Six Nations Grand Slam and a successful World Cup campaign this year.

England are on a roll, trundling up and over their opposition this Six Nations at an alarming rate for every World Cup side to witness; the All Blacks excluded. On form, this is the most convincing looking and finely balanced side since the fateful 2003 team led by Martin Johnson and Johnny Wilkinson, outdoing their 2016 selves by some margin.

However, there may be a finite level of success Eddie Jones' squad can achieve within set time periods. Since taking over following the near-apocalyptic home World Cup in 2015, Jones has guided the Rose to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. A disastrous fifth-place finish in the Six Nations last year followed two back-to-back Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam and an Australian whitewash. And in true rollercoaster fashion, England are once again cranking up the gears, rising higher and higher following a sharp drop towards the cold hard earth in 2018. The pattern is clear to see.

It seems that England's and Jones' greatest success has come following previously unimagined cataclysm, feeding their performances with the thick black coal of disappointment left to gather in the belly of every Englishman. 2016 and parts of 2017 were fired by the 2015 RWC, and from all appearances 2019 has been driven by their calamitous 2017/18 season.

If the last three years are anything to go by, England possess finite storage of mental anguish to unleash upon Test opposition. And if the squad find themselves spent from a psychological standpoint after storming to an all-dominant Six Nations campaign, their World Cup march may prove less than fruitful.

Now, there is every chance this side will prove resilient enough to learn from their seesaw fortunes and carry their spectacular Six Nations form into the World Cup. However, recent history does not smile favourably upon this particular hope.

A loss in Cardiff this weekend to Warren Gatland's charges could be the best possible outcome for England's tournament in Japan later this year. Sometimes, having a point to prove can be infinitely more potent a form of motivation than outdoing your previous best.

 

The Rugby Magazine

Filed under: International, Six Nations, England, Wales
Written by: Alistair Stokes
Follow: @alistokesrugby · @therugbymag

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