ENGLAND’S extraordinary demolition of world champions New Zealand on Saturday has struck fear into every rugby-playing nation on the planet, according to former Red Rose coach Sir Clive Woodward.
Three tries in 10 minutes from Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi swept the home side to a record 38-21 victory over the All Blacks, ending their opponents’ run of 20 matches without defeat.
Fly-half Owen Farrell’s kicking reaped 17 points and outshone that of his celebrated opposite number Dan Carter, as England romped to only their seventh victory ever over New Zealand.
Perhaps their greatest performance in history at Twickenham was the perfect response to consecutive defeats to Australia and South Africa, and ensured Stuart Lancaster’s men ended the year on a high.
It was not enough to gain England a place among the top seeds for today’s draw for the 2015 World Cup, which will take place on these shores, but Woodward believes they will be the team everyone else is desperate to avoid.
“The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. That one result yesterday will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say, for once, ‘We want to keep away from England’,” said the 2003 World Cup winner.
“It was a great, great victory. The scoreline absolutely reflected the performance and it was a great, great day to be at Twickenham. They have some great players in there – Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw – who were world class on Saturday.
“This was a real David and Goliath effort. They came out and threw the kitchen sink and New Zealand got completely rattled. Every phase of the game they won.”
New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France, who occupy the first four spaces in the world rankings, make up the top seeds for the draw, with England in the second tier alongside Ireland, Samoa and Argentina.
Farrell, meanwhile, believes Saturday’s result has emphatically silenced doubts over Lancaster’s project. “We felt like it was nearly there,” he said. “I know on the outside people didn’t think that. But the stuff that has been said on the outside has only made us tighter as a group.”
2015 WORLD CUP DRAW
■ Today’s draw in London will see 20 teams (or places yet to be filled) divided into four groups
■ The top four seeds will be allocated to different groups and avoid each other in the quarter-finals
■ One team from the second and third tiers of seeds will go into each group
■ Top seeds: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
■ Second seeds: England, Ireland, Samoa, Argentina
■ Third seeds: Wales, Italy, Tonga, Scotland
■ The remaining eight places to be determined by qualifying