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Rugby World Cup 2019: Inside story of England’s past four campaigns

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By Mike Henson
BBC Sport
Eddie Jones is going to expect since, for the previous 16 years, England’s Rugby World Cup performances are heading in the opposite way, the only real way is up.
From world champions in 2003, in 2015, into the quarter-finals from 2011 and a gut-punch, pool-stage leave in home gardening to runners-up in 2007.
Here is the story of these campaigns from the guys who had been there.
England’s World Cup campaign was their next trip down under of 2003.
Three weeks before the tournament, they had become the first England side to conquer the All Blacks on their turf with a victory in Wellington, before beating world champions Australia seven days after in Melbourne.
A group other than New Zealand arrived at the World Cup. And the local press and public sledged away in the prospective champions.
“We got it all of the time, each week,” recalls wing Jason Robinson.
“It had been all sorts. ‘The snowy orcs on steroids’ ‘The old men.’ England couldn’t play, we had been boring, this that and the other.
“You always get it no matter where you go, however in Australia likely more so.”
But at the build-up to a final against the hosts, even the fans of England were just as much of a difficulty with an estimated 50,000 of those descending on Sydney and turning their own heroes – as their critics.
“That previous week felt like we had been in jail,” adds Robinson.
“So many fans had come over – the service was fantastic – however we had been stuck at the resort. We had been looking at Manly beach, but there have been thousands of supporters outside looking back in.
“We couldn’t go out anywhere. It was a zoo. When it came to the game we were desperate to get into it and do it.”
And they did get it done. Robinson scored the only try of England in an victory.
“In 2000 I was a rugby league player, being headhunted by England coach Clive Woodward and speaking about this World Cup, knowing I might be part of this,” states the 45-year-old.
“Then 3 years down the line, I was there in the final, scoring the attempt.
“No additional experience in rugby can fit this, and it affects a whole good deal of items for you moving ahead. There are not many times when somebody doesn’t tell me where they were on that day.
“You are doing it because you love the game, yet to hear different folks reminiscing about where they were makes you understand what an impact you had”
“It was completely different.”
Four years on, Robinson was in a England Rugby World Cup campaign, however in starkly contrasting conditions.
For a start, he was not supposed to be there. At the age of 31, he had announced his retirement.
But England wanted him. A pitiful run of form in 2006, including eight defeats in nine Tests, had contributed to Andy Robinson being ejected from the coach chair that was hot.
Robinson’s successor, brian Ashton, persuaded Robinson to return to the game even if some repeat of 2003’s run’s prospects looked remote.
“We did not have consistency in performance or choice, we weren’t playing well or performing individually and also that there was bickering within the camp – a few players thought they should have been being picked and also there was division between a number of their squad along with the coaches,” remembers Robinson.
In their pool game, South Africa seemingly confirming their status because also-rans hammered at England 36-0. Robinson pulled on his hand and thought his rugby career was over.
“It turned out to be a five-week recovery time and that I will remember coming off the pitch thinking:’Dearie me, that is it,'” says Robinson.
“I spent some much time using Phil Pask, the physio. It was ridiculous, each half an hour we had been doing some thing – icing, stretching, working”
His last game was against South Africa, but because of rematch in the final, as England fought beyond France and Australia to make an unlikely shot in the primary side to shield the Williams Webb Ellis trophy.
The lasting image of the final has been a slow-motion loop of England wing Mark Cueto’s knee cleaning a sliver of whitewashand denying that the underdogs a vital score early in the second half. With no, England went 15-6.
“Our backs had been contrary to the wall then first defeat from South Africa. We had been composed, but we produced the goods,” reflects Robinson.
“We all believed Cueto had gone to be fair, but unfortunately it was not to be and, if I am honest, South Africa would be the better team daily.
“But it shows you can get an ideal of the groundwork, something such as 2003, but sometimes determination and doggedness will get you there as well. We weren’t that far away from winning it .”
In the wake of England’s quarter-final defeat France at 2011, this site released a timeline of the controversies that had shrunk into the exit door that was last-eight.
Bungee jumping, drunken flirting, hidden walkie-talkies, prohibited sponsors, surreptitious ball swaps along with an impulsive dip in Auckland harbour led in the area of 27 days to a list of eight events.
“We’d had lots of coaching about off-field materials and been informed of all of the possible mistakes we can create,” remembers second row Louis Deacon, who divides his time between working as forward coach for Championship side Coventry and being firm and partnership manager for the Matt Hampson Foundation, which supports people injured during sport.
“We’re well prepared for this in that way, but I do not think we were prepared for if it did really occur.
“The night of the Mike Tindall incident [the centre, recently married to Zara Phillips, was filmed with his arm around another girl ] other groups were doing exactly what we were doing.
“We had some time , we had a group supper, we went to get a few drinks and it had been only blown massively out of proportion. It was not anywhere as bad as it had been made out to be in the media.
“But we were battling from then on. Writer Martin Johnson was talking more about that stuff than what was happening about it.
“It was so frustrating because we couldn’t focus on the rugby. We’d go out as a group to get a coffee and there were artists around round. It was difficult. We had been sitting targets.”
Late attempts from Ben Youngs and Chris Ashton was needed to procure narrow wins over Argentina and Scotland respectively in the pool, but England were favourites to beat a France team who had dropped to Tonga last time out and when the teams met at Twickenham seven months earlier.
After Wales’ quarter-final win over Ireland on precisely the same side of the draw earlier in the day, Johnson’s team might observe a route.
“A bit of complacency settled ,” admits Deacon.
“France were in a little chaos and there were tales coming out about the way they’d fallen out. We read too much into what was happening and just didn’t turn up.
“I think we were looking ahead because we could have had Wales in the semi-finals, who we’d already beaten from the Six Nations and at one of our two summertime Test meetings”
Shipping 16 unanswered points with France holding out to get a 19-12 win before those thoughts dashed.
There was time for Manu Tuilagi to leap off the back of a ferry from Auckland harbour, making a police warning along with a # 3,000 fine to himself.
“This was a little dare, a joke, and I don’t think we believed Manu would do it – but he had been young, only 20 years old,” says Deacon.
“This was bad timing after all this had happened previously.”
Two years before , the Rugby Football Union had put of arriving at their house World Cup using a world rank, England trainer Stuart Lancaster the goal.
As they got the tournament using a strong 35-11 win over Fiji they were fourth, but there was little hint of the carnage to come.
“We really thought we had a chance to go all the way,” remembers scrum-half Danny Care, today one of the co-hosts of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly.
“Stuart had done a heap of work behind the scenes together using the group to show how unique it was to play for England, especially at a home World Cup, and there were some amazing moments with family members explaining what it meant to have their relatives from the group.
“With the power and support of being a home World Cup and the players we had, we believed we could give it a great go.”
The build-up into the tournament was dominated by Lancaster’s selection calls.
After being told that he missed out fly-half Danny Cipriani had fought with assault coach Mike Catt about the training floor. Even more controversially, Sam Burgess, a fast-tracked rugby league convert, was contained at the expense of center Luther Burrell, who had initiated each of England’s Six Nations matches earlier in this year. Burrell later admitted his exclusion’d left him emotionally”broken”.
“It wasn’t Sam’s fault he got picked,” reflects Care. “He is an incredible athlete and was never going to turn down a opportunity to play in a World Cup. I think everybody in the squad only felt hugely sorry for Luther Burrell for missing ”
From the match that followed, England were seen off by Australia after a late defeat from Wales.
The fallout soon followed by anonymous briefings in the camp asserting the air was too”controlling” and that assistant Andy Farrell had too much say in team strategies.
Care saw the Australia conquer together with Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth favored since the backup option to Ben Youngs, from the stands.
“I did not go into the changing room after, since the remainder of the squad moved directly back to the hotel,” Care recalls.
“We only saw the boys when they return. I don’t think any of us might believe it to be honest. All that hard work we’d done and we had been out before we knew it.”
But there was yet another game to be playedwith. The final pool game against Uruguay of england was now a dead rubber, together using the two teams. Given his first playing time of the championship, a 60-3 triumph by which Jack Nowell along with also Nick Easter both scored hat-tricks was began by Care.
“The tournament was over for me I played a minute,” said Care.
“However, I was incredibly proud to be playing with my very first World Cup match for England and has been decided to put in a fantastic performance. That was a fair number people who had not played yet, so we definitely had a point to prove.
“Now I only look back at it as the biggest opportunity missed”
By Wales, England suffered a defeat In the World Cup in 1987 , possibly sparing themselves a heavier loss from the semi-finals. Eventual winners New Zealand beat Wales 49-6 in the previous four.
{England were joint hosts of the tournament in 1991 and came close to taking home the si

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