Rugby World Cup 2023: Matt Dawson Criticizes England’s Lack of Elite Talent
Are you inclined towards the seasoned expertise of Owen Farrell or the youthful energy of Marcus Smith and Henry Arundell?
According to former scrum-half Matt Dawson, England is grappling with a shortage of world-class players and remains uncertain about their optimal starting lineup for the World Cup debut on September 9. Dawson questions the selection choices made by head coach Steve Borthwick, who has included 16 individuals from the 2019 final squad under Eddie Jones, with Owen Farrell resuming his role as captain.
Dawson, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, remarked, “I acknowledge that there have been players in that squad who have displayed world-class abilities. However, my apprehension is the current absence of players at that level.”
The roster assembled by Borthwick comprises players with a combined tally of over 1,400 caps, featuring veterans such as Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole, and Ben Youngs who are poised for their fourth World Cup appearances.
Dawson, who secured the World Cup victory in 2003, could only confidently predict Freddie Steward as a definite starter in the backline against Argentina for England’s inaugural match in Marseille.
Dawson expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of Steve Borthwick’s current approach in securing a World Cup triumph: “I’m not convinced that the style of play Steve Borthwick is employing currently is potent enough to secure a World Cup victory.” He further critiqued, “When I examine the England backline… can you identify even one player who is certain? Perhaps Freddie Steward at full-back?”
Dawson underscored the potential challenge if uncertainty prevails in the team, saying, “How impactful can he be if we are unsure about the composition of the six players in front of him? The uncertainty surrounding positions like nine, ten, twelve, and thirteen is likely weighing on the coaches’ minds.”
He observed that the lack of clarity extends even to the players, not just the coaches: “I am uncertain if the players themselves are aware of the ideal XV at this point, let alone the coaches.”
Dawson emphasized the necessity of establishing cohesion and clarity within the squad, stating, “In the coming weeks, they must forge that connection and fluidity. It is crucial that not only fans, pundits, and rugby enthusiasts, but also the players and the team, recognize the first-choice XV.” He acknowledged the challenge of making selections while maintaining competitiveness but stressed the importance of identifying the optimal team to contend for a medal in October.
England’s preparations began with a 20-9 loss to Wales in a warm-up game, and they have three more matches scheduled before the World Cup commences. Their upcoming fixtures involve a rematch against Wales at Twickenham, a match against top-ranked Ireland in Dublin, and a home game against Fiji.
Share your opinions on Dawson’s perspective: Is it truly challenging to select a starting XV against Argentina? When it comes to the fly-half position, would you opt for Farrell, George Ford, or Marcus Smith? Is Freddie Steward the sole certain selection in the backline? Who do you consider as the genuinely world-class players?
Construct your England World Cup XV by picking your preferred starting lineup for the match against Argentina:
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about England’s World Cup XV selection
What is the main concern raised by Matt Dawson regarding England’s Rugby World Cup 2023 prospects?
Matt Dawson expresses concern about the lack of world-class players in the England squad and their uncertain starting XV composition for the World Cup opener.
How many players from the 2019 final squad are included in the current England roster?
Head coach Steve Borthwick has chosen 16 players from the 2019 final squad to be part of the 33-man squad for the World Cup 2023.
Who is expected to be a guaranteed starter according to Matt Dawson?
Matt Dawson predicts Freddie Steward as the only definite starter in the backline for England’s opening game against Argentina.
What does Matt Dawson believe is essential for England’s success in the World Cup?
Matt Dawson stresses the need for cohesion, clarity, and a defined starting XV to achieve success in the World Cup, both for the players and the coaching staff.
How did England fare in their opening warm-up match and what are their upcoming fixtures?
England lost their opening warm-up match 20-9 to Wales. They have additional warm-up games scheduled against Wales again, Ireland, and Fiji before the World Cup.
What are the concerns raised about England’s backline composition?
Matt Dawson questions the uncertainty surrounding key positions in the England backline, including numbers 9, 10, 12, and 13, and highlights the challenge this poses for the coaches and players.
What is the objective of Steve Borthwick’s coaching approach according to Matt Dawson?
Matt Dawson questions the efficacy of Steve Borthwick’s current coaching style and its suitability for winning the World Cup, expressing his lack of conviction in its effectiveness.
How many combined caps do the veteran players in England’s squad possess?
The veteran players in England’s squad hold more than 1,400 combined caps, with players like Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole, and Ben Youngs preparing for their fourth World Cup appearances.
Who are the potential options for the fly-half position in the England squad?
The potential options for the fly-half position in the England squad include Owen Farrell, George Ford, and Marcus Smith.
What importance does Matt Dawson place on knowing the best XV?
Matt Dawson emphasizes the significance of identifying the best starting XV and establishing a sense of clarity and connection among the players and coaches leading up to the World Cup.
More about England’s World Cup XV selection
- Rugby World Cup 2023: Official website for the Rugby World Cup 2023.
- Matt Dawson: Learn more about the former England scrum-half, Matt Dawson.
- England Rugby: Official website for England’s national rugby team.
- BBC Radio 5 Live: The radio station where Matt Dawson’s comments were aired.
- Eddie Jones: Information about Eddie Jones, the former England head coach.
- Freddie Steward: Find out more about Freddie Steward, the full-back mentioned by Matt Dawson.
- Steve Borthwick: Information about Steve Borthwick, England’s current head coach.
- Wales Rugby: Official website for Welsh rugby.
- Ireland Rugby: Official website for Irish rugby.
- Fiji Rugby: Official website for Fijian rugby.