England will consider anything less than winning the Rugby World Cup as a failure, according to former world champion Jason Robinson.

Eddie Jones' side meet Australia in a quarter-final showdown in Oita on Saturday, having finished top of Pool C.

The Wallabies' 33-13 win at Twickenham four years ago dumped England out of their home World Cup in the pool stage, but Jones, who took over from Stuart Lancaster following that tournament, has overseen six straight wins over Australia since.

England looked in impressive form throughout their Pool C campaign, cruising to victories over Tonga, the United States and Argentina before their final match against France was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Beating Australia would see England face Ireland or holders New Zealand for a place in the final, and Robinson – a World Cup winner in 2003 – does not believe Jones' team can be content with anything short of becoming champions.

"Jones has done a great job - he's transformed them in a lot of ways," said Robinson, speaking to Omnisport on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"England will want to win the World Cup, it's as simple as this.

"Getting beat in a semi or the quarters, it will all be seen as a failure if we don't win the World Cup. England are such in world rugby that second place isn't an achievement.

"Sometimes, in sports like football, you can celebrate getting into a semi-final, but it's England - we're the biggest rugby nation in the world.

"The guys have not turned up to get beaten in a semi or even the final. Success is winning the thing.

"There's no givens. [Jones] has taken the team forward in many different ways over the last four years and should be commended.

"But World Cups are all about winning, you can talk about finals as much as you want but you're either a winner or a loser. The only medals I get out are not the runner up ones."

However, Robinson conceded claiming a second World Cup title would be no mean feat against some of the sport's greatest sides. 

"If you're going to win this tournament, play Australia in the quarters, maybe New Zealand in the semis and potentially Wales or South Africa in a final," he added.

"There's no easy way to the final, you still have to beat the big teams. If England are to win, they'll have certainly earned it."

 

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England head coach Eddie Jones said "someone is going to die" as he turned up the heat ahead of his side's Rugby World Cup blockbuster against Australia.

A spot in the World Cup semi-final will be up for grabs when England and rivals Australia meet in Oita on Saturday.

Expectations are high for England, who are led by former Wallabies coach Jones, and the 59-year-old Australian used ancient Japanese Warriors as a way to describe his team.

"How many samurai have we got: 23, mate. And we've got eight in the caves up there," Jones told reporters, pointing to the hills behind the England hotel in Beppu.

"That is where all the samurai lived. Every time the samurai fought, one lived, and one died. It will be the same on Saturday. Someone is going to live, and someone is going to die. That's what the game is about and that's the excitement. You get the best eight teams, all playing for their lives.

"The great thing about the World Cup is that every game is a knockout. No one has won a World Cup after losing a game and there is a reason for that. That's what I enjoy so much about a World Cup, every game is a knockout. Every game is potentially a knockout."

Jones, meanwhile, called on England skipper Owen Farrell to concentrate on himself after focusing on the team during the pool stage.

"The responsibility of being captain at the World Cup is much larger than normal test matches, because you're bringing a group of 31 players together for... how long have we been together now? Eight or nine weeks," Jones said.

"You get all the family issues. You go to the dinner table, one brother is happy, one brother is unhappy. Someone doesn't know if they are happy or not. He's the father of that group so to speak. His ability to delegate, to know what to say to players is a challenging experience for a young guy like him. He's coping with it really well. 

"I feel like sometimes, maybe earlier in the tournament, he spent too much time in the captaincy area and not enough on his own individual prep, but I've seen a real change in that this week.

"Why was [Australia cricket star] Steve Smith so successful in the Ashes? One of the reasons was he didn't have to worry about the bowling team, he didn't have to worry about setting fields. All he had to worry about was batting. It's much simpler when you're just a player. When you are captain, you've got more responsibilities, and as you go on as a captain you learn how to get the balance right.

"Owen is a warrior. He leads from the front, competes and he's tough. And that's what we've tried to produce in this team. We've got a tough team that competes hard and that's how we want to play. That's the England style of playing."

James Horwill is backing Australia to end their barren run against England and go on to win the Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies have lost six consecutive games against England since knocking them out of the previous World Cup at Twickenham four years ago.

Eddie Jones' side are firm favourites to continue that sequence at Oita Stadium on Saturday and set up a semi-final against two-time defending champions New Zealand or Ireland. 

Yet former Australia captain Horwill thinks Michael Cheika's men can defy the odds and lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.

Asked if the Wallabies can go all the way, he told Omnisport: "I don't see why not. They would get New Zealand next assuming they get past Ireland, which most people would expect them to do.

"It would obviously be challenging, but if we were able to perform as we did against New Zealand in Perth [where Australia were 47-26 winners in August] with a very dominant performance, there is no reason why we can't.

"It's just the consistency we need, which has been lacking over the last couple of years."

Horwill stressed the importance of Australia starting the game against England as they finished it in a 29-25 Pool D defeat to Wales last month, when they mounted a spirited fightback but gave themselves too much to do.

"You can see the way we play we are holding the ball and not kicking a lot. I don't see them changing the way they play." the 34-year-old ex-lock said.

"In the Wales game, we turned the ball over too much to start with. When you hold on to the ball, as we saw in that game, you can build pressure with gaining territory.

"That is a big part of the way the Australians have been playing, keep the ball and carry hard. If we can do that, we have some very damaging runners and a potent attack.

"The key is not allowing [England] to get into the position Wales were in to start with. Build the scoreboard, manage the game really well and hopefully not chase the game."

Former New Zealand international Jeetan Patel has been appointed England spin bowling consultant for the five-match Twenty20 series against the Black Caps.

The Warwickshire captain has been given special dispensation from Cricket Wellington to miss the first three matches of the Plunket Shield season and will join up with the England squad in Christchurch next week.

Patel played 43 ODIs, 24 Tests and 11 T20 Internationals over an 11-year period and has continued to thrive in first-class cricket in the twilight of his career.

New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Wellington fully support Patel with his assignment in the England set-up under new head coach Chris Silverwood as he makes plans to become a coach when he calls time on his playing days.

The first T20 begins at Hagley Oval on November 1.

 

Lucien Favre has called for calm with Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund, saying the enormous expectations on the young winger's shoulders are "dangerous".

Sancho was this week named on the shortlist for the 2019 Golden Boy award - given to the best under-21 player in Europe - following an eye-catching year in Germany.

The 19-year-old has contributed to three goals and five assists in seven Bundesliga games this season, but Favre started him on the bench for the 2-2 draw at Freiburg two weeks ago due to tiredness.

Favre defended his decision at the time and has reiterated that Sancho cannot be expected to be at his best week in, week out, particularly with so much pressure on him to succeed.

"The expectations on him from everyone are enormous," Favre said at Thursday's news conference ahead of his side's home match with Borussia Monchengladbach. "We forget that he is only 19 years old. That's dangerous. 

"He still has a lot to learn. He's a great player, no discussion about that. But he still has to learn, he needs to continue having fun and making progress.

"His potential is enormous. It's normal for every player. You can't be on a high level for a whole year. It's impossible. One or two months a year you are not at 100 per cent. That is normal. 

"One year ago he basically was never on the pitch and started to play only from October. Before that he was always on the bench and slowly but steadily he showed that he needed to play."

Sancho started England's Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Czech Republic last week and was a second-half substitute for Monday's 6-0 win against Bulgaria.

Favre is concerned by Sancho's workload at such a young age and is keen to protect the former Manchester City youngster.

"He played 73 minutes against the Czech Republic and was brought on against Bulgaria. This is not a break," he said.

"Obviously it's fantastic that he plays for England already. But to me it's completely normal that he needs to hit the brakes a little."

Eddie Jones praised his "good old mate" Michael Cheika ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash between England and Australia and said mentor Jeff Sayle would be proud of them.

Jones and Cheika have never need much encouragement to engage in verbal exchanges before showdowns between England and the Wallabies.

The former club-mates were exchanging compliments two days before a blockbuster quarter-final at Oita Stadium, and England head coach Jones thinks Randwick great Sayle - who died on October 1 - will be looking down with pride this weekend.

"They are a great tournament side. I think Cheik has done a really good job," Australian Jones said.

"I'm proud of the job he does. He's a good old mate of mine."

Jones added: "There will be a bloke in the sky who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week.

"I'm sure he's having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation."

Wallabies boss Cheika thinks it is a shame Australian rugby is not benefiting from Jones' expertise.

"He's been there [in England] for a bit now hasn't he? He's done a good job for sure," Cheika said of the former Australia coach.

"It always hurts me when there's an Aussie over there. Trevor Bayliss and Eddie and, I don't know, Wayne Bennett. You want them at home but it is what it is. What do you do?"

Matt Toomua has an insight into opponents England from his time with Leicester Tigers, but his assessment of their "weaknesses" will be of little use in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Toomua spent three years in the Premiership with Leicester and is set to come face-to-face with a number of former Tigers team-mates in Oita this weekend. 

The versatile 29-year-old is among the Australia replacements to take on an England side including the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Jonny May, with George Ford and Dan Cole on the bench.

Asked for his thoughts on his ex-colleagues, Toomua told a news conference: "I know all their weaknesses. I can list them now for you if you want.

"Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn't even the best rugby player in his family, let alone his country.

"The chicken, Jonny May, is very weird, and Dan Cole doesn't have a personality. I've just been telling everybody about that."

Shifting to a more serious tone, he added: "No, we had a great relationship with them and one thing we do know is they're all quality players. We were fortunate for the last couple of years when Manu came back from injury, we just saw him grow in stature.

"He probably grows the bigger the game as well. He probably plays his best rugby in Tests, and that's the sign of a true champion player.

"Obviously Manu is a name that sticks out for a lot of reasons - he is a strong carrier and makes a lot of big plays. But it is probably about trying to shut down his time and space.

"He is at 12 now so he is a bit closer to the play, so it might be a little easier in that sense. I'm sure they're working out ways to give him some ball one-on-one at full steam."

While Tuilagi is a very real threat to Australia from the outset, Ford lost the number 10 shirt to Owen Farrell despite an impressive tournament to date.

Captain Farrell said: "I've played fly-half plenty of times before, I'm fine with playing fly-half. It's more about how I can fit in the team and hopefully put us in a place to perform well at the weekend."

Australia may have lost six successive matches to England, but Michael Cheika insisted "the fear inside us is dead" ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

A 33-13 win for the Wallabies four years ago ensured England suffered an embarrassing pool-stage exit at the World Cup on home soil and prompted the Rugby Football Union to hire Australian Eddie Jones as their new head coach.

Tasmanian Jones has had Cheika's number ever since, with England winning each of their six meetings between 2016 and 2018.

However, that record is not weighing on the mind of Cheika, who has already said he will walk away from his post if Australia do not win the World Cup.

"The fear inside us is dead," Cheika said at a news conference.

"We are not afraid to go there and get it. That means it will be a great game."

That attitude perhaps explains Cheika's decision to roll the dice on 19-year-old Jordan Petaia, who will become just the fourth teenager to appear in a World Cup knockout match when he starts at outside centre.

Petaia only made his Test debut in the pool stage and both his previous appearances came at wing, but he has been shifted inside with Reece Hodge returning from suspension.

"I trust him infinitely," Cheika added of Petaia.

"He's looking good as gold. It's going to be fast and aggressive but I just know he will rise to the challenge - I've seen it in him."

Jones has also taken a gamble, dropping the in-form George Ford for Henry Slade and switching captain Owen Farrell to fly-half.

England have won all three of their World Cup matches so far - with their game against France cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis - and Jones knows they need to raise their level against the Wallabies.

"We've had three games, we've had three bonus-point wins, we can't do more than that," Jones said.

"Do we have to play better than that against Australia? The likelihood is yes, and we are prepared for that."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - Maro Itoje

Turnovers are key in such tight contests and no one won more than Itoje in the pool stage. The forward only played in two games and yet regained the ball on seven occasions.

Australia - Samu Kerevi

While Petaia will garner much of the attention, England must keep an eye on his midfield partner and Queensland Reds team-mate Kerevi. He beat 20 defenders across three appearances in the pool stage - the most of any centre - and more than England's top two players - Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph - combined.

Key Opta Facts

- The two nations have met 50 times previously. England have won 24 of those matches and Australia have won 25, while there was a draw back in 1997.
- England averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage, the most of any team. Meanwhile, Australia averaged the fewest (13). 
- Australia have reached the knockout phase in each of the nine World Cups and have won six of their previous eight quarter-finals.
- Jonny May will win his 50th cap for England. He has scored 25 tries in his previous 49 appearances.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie, who will start on the bench, has scored a try in each of his three World Cup appearances. Only Will Greenwood (four) has scored in more successive World Cup games for England.

The Rugby World Cup enters the knockout phase this weekend, with Ireland looking to finally reach a semi-final and Japan bidding to cause another upset.

Joe Schmidt's team may have beaten two-time reigning champions New Zealand in two of their previous three meetings, but Ireland have a rotten record in World Cup quarter-finals.

Hosts Japan face South Africa – the team they stunned in the pool stage four years ago – in their first World Cup quarter-final, while Wales meet France and England take on an Australia side they have an excellent recent record against.

Here, we take a look at the Opta data for the four quarter-final clashes.

 

England v Australia

6 - England have dominated the Wallabies of late, winning each of their previous half a dozen meetings since Australian Eddie Jones was hired as head coach in 2015.

7 - No player won more turnovers than Maro Itoje's seven in the pool stage and the England forward only featured in two of his team's three matches.

29 - Jones' side averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage – the most of any team – while Australia, with 13, averaged the fewest.

New Zealand v Ireland

7 - Ireland are in their seventh World Cup quarter-final and have lost all of their previous six matches at this stage – the joint most last-eight losses, along with Scotland.

17 - The All Blacks have won a record 17 consecutive World Cup games coming into this encounter – a run that dates back to a quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

29 - New Zealand have scored a try in each of their last 29 World Cup matches, last failing to do so in 2003.

Wales v France

8 - In the eight meetings between these two nations since Les Bleus beat Wales in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, Warren Gatland's team have won seven times. Only the All Blacks have beaten France more often in that span (10 times).

4 - Wales won all four of their pool-stage matches for the first time since 1987. They have never won five World Cup games in a row.

6 - Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Tests in which they have been leading at half-time – the most such defeats of any side in that time. One of those came against Wales when they were 16 points ahead at the interval.

Japan v South Africa

3 - Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup was their first over a Tier One nation. Since then they have won two of their three games against such opponents, beating Ireland and Scotland in this tournament.

5 - Kotaro Matsushima is one of the leading try-scorers at this World Cup, along with Wales wing Josh Adams, having crossed five times.

47 - The Springboks won 47 out of 47 lineouts on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to maintain a 100 per cent success rate.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has placed his faith in Jordan Petaia by naming the teenager at outside centre for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against England.

The 19-year-old will become the first player born this century to start a World Cup knockout game when he lines up at 13, having featured on the wing in his previous two Tests during the pool stage.

His change in position comes about because wing Reece Hodge has also been selected having completed a three-game suspension after he was cited for a high tackle against Fiji.

Petaia will partner Queensland Reds team-mate Samu Kerevi in midfield while Cheika has opted for a half-back pairing of Will Genia and Christian Lealiifano.

Kurtley Beale has retained his spot at full-back having cleared the concussion protocols after taking a blow to the head against Georgia, while flanker Michael Hooper is back to captain the team.

Australia are bidding to reach their third successive World Cup semi-final and end a run of six consecutive losses to England, who have won every game against the Wallabies since Tasmanian Eddie Jones was appointed as their head coach.

 

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt To'omua, James O'Connor.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has supported the idea of walking off the pitch as a team in response to racist abuse at football grounds.

The Chelsea winger suffered abuse on his first start for the Three Lions in Montenegro last May which he described as "evil" at the time.

The 18-year-old is hoping to force his way into the Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad as he makes his way back from an Achilles injury suffered last season.

Hudson-Odoi scored twice in a 5-1 win for England’s under-21s against Austria on Tuesday and said he was proud of the solidarity shown by the senior players and coaching staff when questioned about the unsavoury scenes in Bulgaria.

"It’s disgusting to hear or see players getting discriminated against," he told reporters.

"It’s not right. I say to myself whenever that happens you have to stick together as a team, which the boys did.

"I am really proud to see the boys stick together in those situations where they say they would walk off the pitch. It is right because no player should be treated differently.

"We’re all equal and it’s an equal game, so we have got to stay strong. Hopefully everything will be sorted out properly by UEFA."

Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov fought back tears in a TV appearance as he demanded action over the racist abuse England players suffered in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The former Ballon d'Or winner suggested "heavier punishments" than stadium closures could be required in response to the shameful scenes that marred Monday's match.

A section of Bulgaria supporters aimed monkey chants at Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford and were also seen performing Nazi salutes.

Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov stepped down amid the fallout and UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the organisation.

The abuse witnessed at Vasil Levski National Stadium moved 53-year-old Stoichkov during an appearance on TUDN programme Futbol Central.

"People don't deserve to suffer," Stoichkov said, before becoming emotional and hanging his head.

Play was twice halted in the first half on Monday before a group of fans were ejected from the ground.

Asked about about a suitable sanction, former Barcelona forward Stoichkov said: "That fans are not allowed in the stadium, or even heavier punishments, like in England a few years ago."

Stoichkov did not specify a particular incident involving punishment in England. He may have meant the ban from European club competitions imposed after the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, when English clubs were barred from UEFA competitions for five years, and Liverpool excluded for a further year.

The Sofia stadium that hosted Monday's match had already been partially closed as a result of racist behaviour from fans during qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov issued an apology on Wednesday and condemned the racist abuse after initially stating he did not hear it occur during his team's 6-0 defeat.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended," Balakov said.

Jonny May reflected on how a decision to snub a team night out in favour of dinner with his parents paid huge dividends as he prepares to celebrate winning a 50th England cap.

The Leicester Tigers flyer made his international debut over six years ago during a tour of Argentina, when the majority of the team was on British and Irish Lions duty.

May was overlooked for the first Test in favour of David Strettle and Christian Wade and had initially missed out on selection for the second game before the latter was drafted to Australia with the Lions.

It is here where fate was on the side of May, who had shunned a drinking session with the players not in the matchday squad the night before the game in favour of a more serene evening.

"Funnily enough Christian Wade got called up for the Lions on the morning of the game," said May. 

"And basically because my mum and dad were out and I went out for dinner with them and all the other non-23 players went out on the p***, so I got the 'go on you can play' pretty much! It's funny how it works out.

"I didn't feel ashamed but I didn't feel great because my parents were out there and it looked like I wasn't going to get a game. 

"What was probably quite a challenging couple of weeks finished on a really good note as my parents got to watch me play and I got my first cap. It all worked out in the end."

It took May until his eighth cap to score a first England try but his strike rate is now an impressive 25 in 49 Tests.

The 29-year-old has established himself as one of the best wingers in world rugby and could make his landmark England appearance in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia in Oita on Saturday.

Any personal achievements are on the back burner for May, though, whose sole focus is on helping the team defeat the Wallabies.

"If you take a step back, you'd say it's an awesome achievement, something I'm very proud of and hopefully I've made my family proud," he added. 

"But it's no time to take a step back. It's a huge team game at the weekend.

"It really has been a challenge. You have to fight to be a part of the squad, let alone to start. My mindset has changed so much on that, especially with Eddie [Jones] coming in. 

"It's a squad performance. We're competing to be the best we can be, we're not competing with each other.

"I have changed a lot, not just as a rugby player but as a person. I have matured. I have become more focused, maybe a little bit more introverted as the years have gone on.

"I'm not necessarily at a stage now where I'm working harder but I'm working smarter, just to keep developing and improving."

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised after initially saying he did not hear the racist abuse directed at England players during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

England claimed a 6-0 win but the match was marred by incidents in the stands, which were reported to officials and resulted in two delays to the action before half-time.

UEFA opted to charge the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for "racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes)", with local reports indicating four people have been arrested in connection.

BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned under pressure from Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov in the wake of the furore.

Before the match, coach Balakov claimed England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country, then insisted after the game he had not heart the chanting.

But he has since issued an apology after accepting racist abuse did occur.

In a letter posted to his official Facebook page, Balakov wrote: "I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behaviour that contradicts normal human relations.

"I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no one should ever be subjected [to it].

"I have trained many Bulgarian teams with players of different origin and never anyone judging by the colour of their skin. In addition, I have always participated actively in all initiatives involving privileged people or those who need to be involved.

"My comments before the game against England that Bulgaria did not have problems with racism is based on the fact that the local championship did not see such a problem on a large scale.

"There may have been individual cases, but it's definitely not something you see at the stadium. The majority of football fans do not participate in this kind [of behaviour], and I believe that this has also been the case in the game against England.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended.

"At the same time, however, I would like to address everyone who uses hateful language on social media, that my words have been incorrectly removed from context - and if that does not stop, I will be forced to take legal action against it."

Nathan Lyon is refusing to give up hope on featuring for Australia at their home ICC Men's T20 World Cup despite missing out on selection against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The spinner has only made two T20I appearances for his country – the last of those coming a year ago – and is not included for his country's upcoming series in 20-over cricket.

But Lyon, Australia's third-highest wicket-taker in Tests, still wants to play in all three formats and will continue to make himself available.

"Definitely I want to put my hand up for all games of cricket, especially for Australia," he said.

"Whatever game I play cricket for, I just need to make sure I'm doing my job and if I keep putting my hand up for selection, who knows where that may lead to?"

Lyon, who was facing a similar battle prior to the 50-over World Cup before entering as Australia's front-line spinner, insists there is no issue with chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

"He just called me and told me I wasn't in," he added.

"But I had a really good chat to Cracker [Hohns] – I get along really well with him – so if I have any issues with Cracker, I'll just pick up the phone.

"There's no doubt. I have the absolute utmost respect for him so there's no dramas there."

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