Following the conclusion of the June test series, rugby fans the world over have been presented with the latest illustration as to where the authority in the game pertains.
While the northern hemisphere nations made some distance in closing the extensional gap which existed between the north and south following the 2015 World Cup, in which all four semi-finalists hailed from the Rugby Championship; with glimpses of positive running rugby from Wales, a strong showing from a severely under-powered Ireland and England’s incredible series whitewash, the debate as to who sits atop rugby’s playing elite has been well and truly ignited.
In that respect, 2003 World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has had his hugely overqualified say regarding where the power lies within the game at the moment and who he would choose in his own starting XV.
Woodward believes that while England are clearly the second best team in the world right now, there is still a considerable distance between Eddie Jones’ men and the current world champs New Zealand. Sir Clive feels that England are still a number of years from becoming a serious and genuine threat to the All Blacks’ reign atop the throne:
“This England team won’t win the World Cup, although some of those playing in Sydney on Saturday will certainly provide the core of the team at the 2019 event in Japan,” says Woodward.
“What the class of 2016 have done is restore pride, and an appreciation of the basics, and made English rugby believe in itself again. Now they must reboot and set their sights sky-high.”
In order for England to achieve these dizzying aspirations Woodward has stated that they need a large contingent of truly world class players within the squad, of which they currently have two:
“Rugby might be a team sport but great teams are made up of exceptional individuals and England still have only two players – Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje – who I would select for a World XV. If England are going to win a World Cup, that figure needs to be nearer seven or eight.
“From now on, every player needs to see himself competing in his own Olympic competition to be the best in the world in his position. By early 2019 they should aim to be the gold medallists in their positions.”
Woodward’s XV throws up one or two interesting names with a heavy southern hemisphere presence making up the core of the squad:
Clive Woodward’s World XV:
Israel Folau (Australia)
Ben Smith (NZ)
Sonny-Bill Williams (NZ)
Wesley Fofana (France)
Juan Imhoff (Argentina)
Owen Farrell (England)
Aaron Smith (NZ)
Kieran Read (NZ)
David Pocock (Australia)
Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)
Eben Etzebeth (SA)
Maro Itoje (England)
Ramiro Herrera (Argentina)
Dane Coles (NZ)
Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
(source via nzherald.co.nz)