"We're Lacking Those Special Players" - Jeremy Guscott lays into England's World Cup chances - Ruck

“We’re Lacking Those Special Players” – Jeremy Guscott lays into England’s World Cup chances

Former England and British & Irish Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is not ambitious on England’s expectations at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The former Bath player believes that England fans have accepted that their side is not as good as it once was, with Guscott claiming that England lack ‘special players’ with ‘stardust’.

Jeremy Guscott – Photo Mandatory by-line: Jan Kruger/Pinnacle – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile: 0797 1270 681 – 21/03/2009 – SPORT – RUGBY – RBS 6 Nations, ENGLAND V SCOTLAND, TWICKENHAM, LONDON

Speaking at the end of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, Guscott said to BettingSites.co.uk;

I think the English public just got to come to terms with the fact that we are not as good as we may think we are. And that’s proven all around. And quite simply, if you lined up the Irish team, you lined up the French team, who from the England team would get into either of those teams?

“What England wanted was a bigger improvement from the Autumn. It was so disappointing in so many ways because it looked like they weren’t in the games. For large parts of the French game, they weren’t in it. Against Ireland, they came together a bit more. But we’re lacking those special players, we’re lacking stardust.”

Owen Farrell, Captain of England leads his side in the national anthem during the Autumn Nations International Series match between England and South Africa at Twickenham, London on 26 November 2022 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Guscott believes that England are playing up to their World Rugby ranking, which today stands at sixth. Despite England’s current ranking, they have a favourable 2023 World Cup fixture list on paper, as the draw for the Pool Stages took place three years ago, when England were amongst the top four international sides.

England take on Argentina, Chile, Samoa and Japan in Pool D, before an expected run in with either Wales or the Wallabies in the knock out stages.

“And right here right now, England are playing as well as they’re ranked, which is sixth or seventh in the world.” Guscott said.

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Steve Borthwick’s side are yet to play an international test match, since their back-to-back defeats, to close out the 2023 Six Nations. England were left humbled by France, as Les Bleus handed them their heaviest ever defeat at Twickenham Stadium, by 53-10. England then took the arduous journey to Dublin, and were defeated by Andy Farrell’s Ireland, who claimed their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2018.

“England are fortunate that in the World Cup draw, they’re likely to play Australia or Wales in a quarter-final. No matter how badly England are playing, you’ve got a good chance of beating them and come a semi-final, they’re likely to play either of the Big Four, and there they exit, because they really haven’t got enough time to improve that much to be able to beat that top four. It’s not impossible, but it is a big mountain to climb.”

Ben Youngs of England, Marcus Smith of England and Owen Farrell, Captian of England sing the national anthem ahead of the Autumn International Series match between England and Japan at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 12th November 2022 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

Guscott continued to discuss how the current England side is not one that ‘picks themselves’, due to the uncertainty around Steve Borthwick’s guaranteed starters. The fly half saga between Owen Farrell, Marcus Smith and George Ford certainly presents this. Steve Borthwick’s men have four summer warm-up matches ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, to dust themselves off, and have players nailed on to starting shirts.

England return to Dublin to take on Ireland, before back-to-back home and away meetings with Wales. The last stop on the road to France is Fiji, with the Pacific Islanders presenting a tough roadblock to overcome at Twickenham Stadium. Guscott compared England’s ability to ‘pick themselves’ to that of Ireland and France.

Antoine Dupont of France during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 11th March 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

We’ve had them but they’ve just not been consistently performing. Whether it be that, or whether it be injuries because good teams pick themselves and at the moment you know England aren’t picking themselves.

“They’re not in the greatest place at the moment.

“The French team picks itself, the Irish team picks itself (up) when everyone’s fit because of the way they play.”

I think the tradition of England and the position of most good sides in the world you have had the fly half, a straight hard running inside centre and a bit quicker outside centre.

George Ford of Sale Sharks during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks at Sandy Park, Exeter on 26th February 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“The Ford – Farrell axis clearly worked well for the first three years of Eddie Jones’s tenure. After that, not so well. It is English DNA to have that bruising inside centre. And that’s why we stick to it until you find something world class that might be different.”

Borthwick’s 2023 RWC 55-Man England Training Squad Predicted

The 2023 Rugby World Cup is fast approaching, and rugby fans are eagerly anticipating the announcement of Steve Borthwick’s England training squad ahead of the competition.

It has been reported that Borthwick has contacted 70 England hopefuls, before he whittles down the group for the final preparations ahead of a series of RWC warm-up games this Summer.

England face a trip to Dublin, as they take on the 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland, before back-to-back home and matches with Wales.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of England Rugby during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium, London on 24 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

The last stop on the road to the 2023 RWC is Fiji, as the Pacific Islanders make the trip to Twickenham Stadium on the 26th of August.

So, ahead of the upcoming training squad announcement, here are RUCK’s picks, for the 55-man group, who will hope to bring the Web Ellis Trophy back home to Twickenham this Autumn.



Ellis Genge of England during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 11th March 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.
  1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)

2. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears)

4. Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks)

5. Jamie George (Saracens)

6. Val Rapava-Ruskin (Gloucester Rugby)

Val Rapava-Ruskin of Gloucester Rugby is tackled by John Afoa of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Bristol Bears at Kingsholm Stadium on December 3 2021 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

7. Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)

8. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs / Montpellier)

9. Jack Walker (Harlequins)

10. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)

11. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)