Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Woodward: England team to be avoided in draw

Sir Clive Woodward believes England are a team to be feared at the World Cup

Sir Clive Woodward believes England's demolition of New Zealand makes them the team to be avoided in Monday's Rugby World Cup draw.

England produced one of the great Twickenham performances to beat the world champions by a record 38-21 scoreline and end the All Blacks' 20-Test unbeaten streak. Only once in 498 Tests had New Zealand been beaten by more. England's previous best victory over the All Blacks was 13-0 in 1936.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France are the top seeds in the draw - and Woodward thinks none of them will want to be grouped with 2015 tournament hosts England. "It was a great, great victory for the English team," Woodward told Sportsweek on Radio Five Live.

"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.

"They had lost the previous two. 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.

"It makes the draw fascinating given England have just demolished New Zealand. The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. The draw is really important because it shows which way you go through the quarter-finals, semi-finals.

"That one result will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say for once 'we want to keep away from England'."

Woodward also believes England's victory was significant for the whole of northern hemisphere rugby. France beat Australia and Ireland defeated Argentina but otherwise the autumn was a disappointment for the Six Nations teams.

"If England had not won yesterday, the Six Nations would have been a second division competition but because of what England did, and to some extent Ireland beating Argentina comfortably, it just sets the Six Nations up absolutely huge.

"It also sets the Lions year up really, really well now."

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