| Tavita |
THE fascination of this year’s Autumn Series for rugby watchers is the chance it offers to preview everyone’s statistical chances for next year’s World Cup.
Statistically, it has so far shown that England, as hosts, have none.
“Nonsense,” says my English mate, Arnold.
“We’ve seen it all before,” he explains.
Today is the 150th anniversary of England’s worst ever series since its previous worst ever series.
It teaches us lessons, he reckons.
It looked as if the lads in white were done forever. The inaugural Autumn Series was on and England was being beaten by all the top teams around back then, like Schleswig and Holstein and Russia and Prussia.
Their pack was useless, head coach Palmerston was over eighty and the media reckoned he’d lost his touch, as well as couple of frontal lobes. The statistics were pretty awful. The results were all disastrous. Predictions of doom and dismay filled the back pages.
“England’s had it,” said the Twickenham Daily Predictor. “The World Cup’s out of sight!
Then up stepped inside centre, Benjamin Disraeli, vice-captain of the Opposition Liberals and future skipper of the national side.
He glanced through the results and dismissed them.
“Lies!” he declared in the House of Commons dressing room, “Damned lies and statistics!”
“Swing Low!” the lads on the back benches chorused. “Sweet Chariot!”
And England went on to win the World Cup and hold it for the next seventy years or so.
“So there!” declares Arnold, swinging ever lower and charioting sweetly.
The statistics of the 2014 Autumn Series so far seem to indicate that England is stuffed as far as next year’s World Cup goes.
The results have been disastrous.
“England’s had it,” said the Twickenham Daily Website screams. “The World Cup’s out of sight!”
The Autumn Series is almost over. Today’s six fixtures are the last full round and the statistics for England are awful again.
After the first two full weekends, the WCC (World Cup Chances) table shows the following:
Ireland – played 2 won 2 …..78-22
France – played 2 won 2…. 69-41
New Zealand – played 2 won 2 ….48-37
South Africa – played 2 won 1….. 46-57
Scotland – played 2 won 1….. 57-55
Italy – played 2 won 1…. 42-33
Australia – played 2 won 1…..59-57
Wales – played 2 won 1……45-46
Argentina – played 2 won 1 ….51-67
England – played 2 won 0….49-55!
Their only hope appears to be today’s bottom-of-the-table clash against the Pacific Islands, represented by Fiji and Samoa over the past two weeks with a record of played 3 and lost three…….41-71.
So, it’s England versus Samoa early tomorrow morning and then a final line up next week against Australia.
A hopeless quest, apparently.
All lies, I’m assured by Arnold.
The other World Cup hopefuls next year appear reasonably satisfied with the statistics so far. South Africa are in Italy, having recovered from their disastrous first round loss to Ireland with aclose but pretty solid-looking win against England last week.
Italy, too, took care of Samoa first and came close to winning over Argentina.
Scotland, still full of themselves after their huge great opening hammering of the Pumas and their narrowish loss to the All Blacks which they are still convinced they would have won if they hadn’t lost.
They are all ready to dispose of two-loss Fiji who reckon that they all ready to dispose of a Scottish side still dreaming of its narrowish loss to the All Blacks which they absolutely certainly would have won if they hadn’t lost.
Ireland reckon they’re quite something nowadays, following their comfortable defeat of the Springboks and their 49-7 demolition of Georgia.
Their only worry today against Australia is maybe they should have cancelled it and organised a return match against Georgia.
France is looking forward to a relaxing victory over Argentina to round off an unbeaten series and Argentina are confident that France will be far too relaxed to notice they’re losing.Wales have been written off as not having a hope against New Zealand and are extremely hopeful they’ll come up with a hope.
Meanwhile, New Zealand chuckles and knows they won’t.
All of which takes us back to England versus a Samoan team eager to prove they are Samoans against an English side currently preparing to be a major force in the next World Cup after the next one after the next one.“Damned lies,” Arnold insists.
According to Arnold, Disraeli appears to have got it totally right. If anything has been learned statistically from this year’s Autumn Series so far, it’s that nothing appears to have been learned about next year’s World Cup.
England can still win the Cup, he declares.
Only one thing’s statistically certain, he states.