Sunday, 13 March 2011

England: Where did it all go right?

OK, before anyone else says it, I realise that it is somewhat precipitous to be singing the praises of the current England team after a less than convincing effort today against the Sweaties and when there's still every chance that the team will come unstuck against Ireland on Saturday.

Nevertheless, and despite today's error-ridden performance, I have to say that the difference between this England team and the rabble who were wearing the red rose some 12 short months ago is still nothing short of phenomenal.

Make no mistake, 12 months ago England would have lost this match.

On Tuesday March 16th 2010 I blogged that “We Can’t Go On Like This,” a post in which I lambasted England’s performance at Murrayfield as being “joyless and so bereft of ideas” and in which I moaned “I can’t for the life of me see the “progress” that the England management assure us is happening.”

How things have changed. While still a long way short of perfect (still way too many errors committed and penalties and turnovers conceded for my liking), there is certainly no lack of attacking intent in this England team and, win or lose in Dublin, I don't think there's much doubt that England’s fortunes are finally back on an upward trajectory.

So, what can we now expect from this England team? 6 Nations Champions? Probable (unless, of course, they are mullered in Dublin). Grand Slam Winners? Possible, although failure wouldn’t exactly be the end of the world.

As for the Rugby World Cup, whatever happens next week it'd still be a brave man to bet on the men in white. Although heading in the right direction, RWC 2011 will almost certainly arrive too soon on this team's development curve.

2015, on the other hand...

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