In Brief

Rugby World Cup: ‘All Blacks are beatable’, says England coach Eddie Jones

Holders New Zealand stand in the way of England reaching the final

Eddie Jones says self-belief will be key for England if they want to beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. 

The two in-form teams of the tournament will clash in a mouth-watering contest on Saturday - the first time that England and New Zealand have met in a World Cup since 1999.

England thrashed Australia 40-16 on Saturday, while the All Blacks humbled Ireland 46-14, but one of the sides will have their World Cup dream ended in Yokohama. 

Find the weakness

New Zealand, the two-time defending champions, haven’t lost a World Cup game since being beaten by France in the 2007 quarter-final but for Jones that scary statistic is merely a challenge. 

“No one’s got a 100% record in Test rugby,” said Jones. “No one averages 100 in Test cricket. No one wins every grand slam 6-0 6-0. So every team has got a weakness. Every team is beatable.”

Asked to name New Zealand’s weaknesses, Jones added: “Well, we’ll find that out during the week. The All Blacks are a great side - well coached, good leadership team - if you give them the type of ball they want, they are hard to defend against.”

Text message

For the rugby neutral the game would have been better as the final, bringing together the two standout teams in the tournament so far, and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has revealed he’s already sent a text to England’s Jones. 

“I said: ‘Looking forward to seeing you and win, lose or draw we’ll have a beer afterwards’,” Hansen told reporters.

Steady Eddie

It’s increasingly unusual in the modern game for opposition coaches to indulge in anything other than snide comments in the lead-up to a match but Hansen explained why that’s not the case with him and Jones. 

“His passion, he loves the game,” he said. “Anyone who loves the game will get my support. He’s done a fantastic job with England. They’ve got a world record for most wins in Test rugby along with ourselves. They’ve got a harder edge about them.”

Wallabies in crisis

An era in Australian rugby has been brought to an end by the England drubbing. Coach Michael Cheika has announced he is stepping down, and Will Genia and David Pocock have ended their international careers.

Six other members of the World Cup squad will be unavailable for selection because they are taking overseas contracts - Australia has a policy of not selecting players playing abroad unless they have won more than 60 caps - raising worrying questions about the future of the national team.

Rugby union is not financially in good health in Australia, and the ongoing controversy with Israel Folau, who is claiming £5.6m in damages from Rugby Australia (ARU) after he was sacked for anti-gay comments he made on social media, has added to the sense of gloom. 

Dysfunctional

Cheika laid bare the dysfunctionality of the ARU as he resigned saying: “I think it’s no secret that I’ve pretty much got no relationship with the CEO [Raelene Castle] and not much with the chairman [Cameron Clyne]... I’ve always prided myself on not compromising my own values and what I want to do.”

New Zealander Dave Rennie, currently in charge of the Glasgow Warriors, is favourite to land the job and according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the ARU might scrap the 60-cap rule in an attempt to make the Wallabies competitive once more.

Rugby World Cup results and fixtures

Quarter-final results 
  • Saturday 19 October: England 40 Australia 16  
  • Saturday 19 October: New Zealand 46 Ireland 14  
  • Sunday 20 October: Wales 20 France 19 
  • Sunday 20 October: Japan 3 South Africa 26 
Semi-final fixtures
  • Saturday 26 October: England vs. New Zealand (9am; International Stadium, Yokohama; live on ITV) 
  • Sunday 27 October: Wales vs. South Africa (9am; International Stadium, Yokohama; live on ITV)

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