England's Danny Care holds out two smart phones and asks the media to take a picture of the team group following the welcome ceremony for the Rugby World Cup at the Royal Militay Academy at Sandhurst, England Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The RWC starts Friday, Sept. 18, with England playing Fiji, and ends with the final on Oct 31.
England's Danny Care holds out two smart phones and asks the media to take a picture of the team group following the welcome ceremony for the Rugby World Cup at the Royal Militay Academy at Sandhurst, England Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The RWC starts Friday, Sept. 18, with England playing Fiji, and ends with the final on Oct 31. AP Photo - Alastair Grant

England unconvincing in Rugby World Cup opener

OPENING night didn't suggest England are on track as a serious contender, but it did confirm they are going to put on an extraordinarily good World Cup.

It's the size and energy that's going to make this one special: it's shaping as a tsunami tournament, a big wave of humanity determined to celebrate rugby from now until November 1.

Twickenham is going to be the perfect centrepiece: it's towering stands, immaculate pitch and it's rightful place as the home of rugby making it a theatre like no other.

If England can progress, they have a huge advantage: the volume was probably only at half on opening night and that was almost deafening as it was. Twickenham is a fortress. Not the sort of place that would suit the mentally frail.

But it's not just the bricks and mortar of Twickenham that will serve as England's friend: the people who fill it are going to be hugely important, too.

For a nation that maybe doesn't really know what it is all about culturally, they do, however, know how to be unashamed in their support. They do know how to enjoy themselves and maybe more importantly, encourage others to do the same.

Big events are England's thing. They nailed the Olympics and it's a given they are going to do the same with Rugby World Cup.

The opening ceremony hit the right tone: short, lively and not in any way extravagant. Homage was paid to a handful of legends, there was a reminder that this is where the game started and a well delivered, thoughtful speech from Prince Harry.

Sadly for England, that's where things peaked. They won the game and for that they should be thankful. That's what they came to do and Fiji made it decidedly hard - bringing as they did an unexpectedly good scrum to go with all the usual flair and excitement. If they had kicked their goals, it may have been a different story all together because Fiji were the more threatening for longer periods.

Which is why victory couldn't hide what were some glaring English shortcomings. Even allowing for the inevitable nerves, England were poor for 70 minutes.

They still haven't got that business of pass and catch sorted. Their big failing, though, was the inability to see space. Maybe they will have to play for another 100 years before the infuriating habit of ball carriers searching for contact is broken.

Based on their efforts against Fiji, England don't appear to be a side with natural instincts. Or of they have them, they don't want to trust them.

Mike Brown was their only player who looked like he was confident. The rest of his team mates appeared to be fixated with plodding around to a formula. And maybe that's the best way to think of England at the moment - they are a team that doesn't know how to think for itself. A team that has been coached, coached a bit more and coached again.

It's not encouraging for their prospects at this tournament. They might not get as far as they would like without being able to play with more spontaneity and flow.

But the tournament, while it will be better for England's presence, seems a good bet to be able to carry on without the home side if needs be. England is going to party with or without a presence on the field.

They are taking the game to iconic venues all over the country and from Brighton to Newcastle, there's an obvious determination to get in behind this tournament.

However far England go, the country at least is going to make sure that it's best side is going to be on show for the next six weeks.


Onion slip: Constipation-aid accident case hits blockage

Onion slip: Constipation-aid accident case hits blockage

'Corruption' claim in shallot constipation-aid saga

Waste-to-energy: Here's how it works

Waste-to-energy: Here's how it works

No support for mass burning of rubbish

New laws live next month

New laws live next month

What growers need to know about labour hire company laws

Local Partners