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Dallaglio: England lack experience


Lawrence Dallaglio shows off the Webb Ellis Cup at Stonehenge

Lawrence Dallaglio shows off the Webb Ellis Cup at Stonehenge

Lawrence Dallaglio shows off the Webb Ellis Cup at Stonehenge

World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio believes England must rewrite rugby history to win the trophy again.

Dallaglio was part of Sir Clive Woodward's England team who beat Australia in Sydney in 2003 to become the only northern hemisphere side to win the World Cup in seven attempts.

Twelve years on Stuart Lancaster's men will attempt to claim a second success on home soil, but Dallaglio admits experience could count against the hosts as they seek to upset the traditional southern hemisphere super-powers of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

"You've got to remember when I played in the 2003 final it was about my 65th cap," Dallaglio told Press Association Sport.

"I think for Martin Johnson it was something like his 84th cap and for Jason Leonard his 114th. So we had a lot of very experienced players and I think that helps in the pressure situations.

"To win a World Cup sometimes you have to go through a few disappointments, and certainly when I cast my mind back to 1999 and losing a quarter-final that was tough.

"Our winning of the World Cup started when we lost in '99 and the All Blacks side that won under Richie McCaw four years ago had that disappointment of losing to France in 2007.

"This England side hasn't had that disappointment yet and they might go on and win the World Cup, but it's a young side and they would be one of the more inexperienced sides to do it.

"They haven't had that (tough) experience to stand them in really good stead, but as the years pass they'll get better and better."

England have a difficult path to the quarter-finals, with Australia and Wales standing in their way at the pool stage.

Dallaglio feels playing at home brings its own unique pressure but he expects them to make their way into the quarter-finals.

"They're the tournament hosts and history will always tell you it's tough to play against the hosts," Dallaglio said as the latest leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour took in Stonehenge and Bristol.

"Playing in your home country is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sometimes the pressure and expectation can be quite a lot and we just don't know how this England team will react to that.

"But on the flip side they might be inspired to produce even more than what we've seen before.

"What I do know is to win a World Cup you've got to be very consistent. You've got to play well over a number of matches and probably have to beat two of the three southern hemisphere sides.

"England could do that as they're at Twickenham, Ireland have their best chance of doing well in this tournament and Wales and Scotland can cause one or two surprises in their group.

"But it's hard to look past the three southern hemisphere sides. Look at that World Cup and on the base of the trophy you'll see that, of the seven tournaments, six have been won by the southern hemisphere.

"Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have won it twice and the motivation is there for them to become the first team to win it three times."

Dallaglio picks out Bath outside-half George Ford - "he's still the man for me as he's changed a lot of the mindset in England's game" - and says he is delighted to see Joe Launchbury fit again to resume what he feels is a "formidable" second row partnership with Courtney Lawes.

But Dallaglio, who won 85 caps for his country, fears England could be under-cooked heading into their World Cup opener against Fiji on September 18.

"The problem is England have not got a lot of rugby between now and the tournament itself," he said.

"These players played their last game a couple of months ago and they've only got three games before the World Cup, and players realistically are not going to play in all of them.

"Personally, I felt I needed five or six games under my belt and it's the same with every season as players don't necessarily play brilliantly in the first couple of games.

"But England haven't got the luxury to get better and better as the tournament goes on. They've actually got to be very good from the start because of the strength of the group they're in."