England loss to Fiji causes World Cup anxiety | Sunday Observer

England loss to Fiji causes World Cup anxiety

3 September, 2023
England after Fiji beat them for the first time
England after Fiji beat them for the first time

England “aren’t playing to their potential” but “are capable of delivering” at the 2023 World Cup, says former international Ugo Monye.

England lost to Fiji on Saturday for their third defeat in four games.

“I totally get the frustration, I’m frustrated,” Monye said.

“I’m seeing a team of 33 individuals, or at the weekend 22 individuals, that aren’t playing to their potential and a game-plan that I don’t think brings the best out in them.”

England’s poor form stretches back further than the summer, having lost five of their past six, while head coach Steve Borthwick has won just three of his nine matches since replacing Eddie Jones in December 2022.

Saturday’s 30-22 defeat by Fiji at Twickenham was England’s final outing prior to the World Cup in France, which gets under way on September 8. England face Argentina in their opening fixture in Marseille on September 9.

The 2003 World Cup winners also face Japan, Chile and Samoa in Pool D.

“We can talk about stats all we like, but the most gruelling and objective stats we have is games played versus games won and lost and it would be an indication that this current game-plan they have doesn’t quite suit this current trend of how rugby is going or doesn’t suit the squad,” Monye told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“I want to see these boys go and deliver what I think they are capable of delivering.

“Has my faith been waivered over the last four weeks? It’s been tested but am I less convinced England will make it out their pool based on what I saw at the weekend? No, I still think they will. And that’s the juxtaposition when you’re talking about England, they haven’t played well and lost three of four matches this summer but I still believe they will be in a World Cup quarter-final.”

England were runners-up at the 2019 World Cup, losing to South Africa in the final, and they have made it to at least the quarter-finals in eight of their nine appearances in the competition.