Rugby Union

England must remain mentally strong to overcome Australia in Rugby World Cup

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For the sake of the tournament; for the sake of Stuart Lancaster's career; and for the sake of rugby in this country, England must win on Saturday.

Just a week after the crushing 28-25 defeat to Wales, England captain Chris Robshaw and co. will line up again at Twickenham this weekend for another pivotal clash in the Rugby World Cup.

The Welsh defeat had a hauntingly familiar feel - indiscipline at the breakdown has been a recurring theme throughout England's defeats in 2015, whilst the decision to go for the corner in the final minutes immediately evoked memories of the 2012 autumn internationals.

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Under Lancaster, England have regularly fought back from adversity. Though never on a stage with this magnitude - few Rugby World Cup pool games have ever been - England have had to bounce back from defeats before, and often with aplomb. 

Following their last-minute 26-24 defeat to France in 2014, England proceeded to produce their best string of results and performances under Lancaster - they won the subsequent fours games, including victories over Ireland and Wales at Twickenham. 

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This season's 19-9 loss in Dublin was succeeded by convincing victories over Scotland and France, again at home.

Most relative to this weekend's game, England also followed up consecutive defeats to Australia and South Africa in 2012 with their greatest performance in a decade - the 38-21 defeat of New Zealand.

England's biggest winning margin over the Kiwis remains comfortably the greatest moment of Lancaster's tenure. Crucially, it followed frustratingly close defeats when questions were being asked of both Robshaw's leadership and England's ability as a team.

This English side has character - from winning in the Millennium stadium despite a ten point deficit at half-time to beating the All Blacks, they have demonstrated they clearly have substance and the Wallabies will be expecting a fierce encounter this weekend.

Courage and bravery will be key on Saturday, and here England will deliver. Questions remain to be answered, however, concerning their discipline at the breakdown and thinking under immense pressure.

The longer the game remains close, the higher the pressure will rise on Lancaster's side, thus bouncing back can't just be about rising to the physical challenge, but perhaps more importantly meeting the mental one too. 

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
Australia Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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