England v Australia - Why World Cup hero Jason Robinson is backing the Red Rose

Glory: Jason Robinson scores his try for England against Australia during the Rugby World Cup final at the Telstra Stadium, Sydney in 2003.
Glory: Jason Robinson scores his try for England against Australia during the Rugby World Cup final at the Telstra Stadium, Sydney in 2003.
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HE is most famous for scoring in England’s historic 2003 World Cup final win over Australia but Jason Robinson believes their meeting four years later is far more pertinent ahead of today’s gargantuan re-match in Ōita.

They start an intoxicating weekend of quarter-finals when Eddie Jones’s side challenge the Wallabies in the latest edition of a rivalry that dates back to 1909.

With Owen Farrell back at 10 and the likes of Manu Tuilagi in the midfield plus those outside backs that can finish, they have the tools. There has been some interesting picks on both sides.

Jason Robinson

Robinson will forever be remembered for that try, dashing in at the corner to put the Red Rose on course for their victory in Sydney, Jonny Wilkinson eventually swinging his right boot to secure the Webb Ellis Cup for the country’s first and only success.

Jones’s current side hope to at last emulate that achievement but, first, they must overcome Australia once more.

In 2007, when Robinson had come out of international retirement, England edged Australia 12-10 in Marseille, prop Andrew Sheridan causing them no end of problems.

Of course, they went on to lose the final to South Africa, when the legendary Robinson won the last of his 51 Test caps.

However, he recalled to The Yorkshire Post: “We were being written off heading into that quarter-final against Australia.

“Going back to 2007, I remember how we knew we had to put in a huge physical display.

“We set out to do that and we made sure our set-piece was right. It was outstanding that night. That will be key for England on Saturday; it has to be excellent to set the platform they’ll need.

“With Owen Farrell back at 10 and the likes of Manu Tuilagi in the midfield plus those outside backs that can finish, they have the tools. There has been some interesting picks on both sides.

“But these two teams have so much history of huge games between them. It’ll be intriguing and should be a great match.

“England, though, are well equipped to win this, there’s no doubting that.”

In theory, plenty is in their favour, not least the fact they have won the last six meetings between the sides and have no major injuries going into today’s encounter.

Granted, dropping No 10 George Ford to the bench after he had started all three games so far, with Farrell switching back from centre to fly-half, is a big call from Jones.

But the Australian has never been afraid of such decisions and arguably England do look a better balanced side with Farrell at No 10 and Henry Slade, such a balanced runner and distributor, in the midfield alongside Tuilagi.

Still, everyone knows which game came directly before the start of that six-match winning run; the infamous 33-13 defeat to the Wallabies at Twickenham that saw humiliated England become the first host nation to fail to qualify for the knockout stages of a World Cup.

That saw the end of Stuart Lancaster’s reign as coach and heralded the arrival of Jones, tasked with not only making sure no such embarrassment occurs again but they actually go on and win another World Cup.

Having stumbled to a shambolic defeat in the 2011 quarter-finals against France in Auckland, it means the Red Rose has still not won a knock-out tournament game since that night in Marseille 12 years ago.

Moreover, there are 10 survivors from the 2015 debacle featuring again today; it will be fascinating to see how they react.

“They are under pressure,” conceded Robinson, who has been in his home city of Leeds this week helping prepare Jamaica’s rugby league team for tomorrow’s game against England Knights at Headingley.

“And they should be under pressure. You’re playing for your country, the biggest rugby nation in the world and especially after that last World Cup we need to do well. But they should be looking forward to this playing against an Australian side that has been a bit indifferent of late.

“If you are going to win a World Cup you have to beat the best.

“All the quarter-finals will be interesting starting with this.

“England v Australia just has that rivalry; beating them in the 2003 final, and again in the 2007 quarter-final and now we have them in another last eight.”

It remains to be seen whether England being out of action last weekend, when their game with France was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, will be a positive or not.

Australia were in action and did not have things all their own way as they had to battle hard to a 27-8 win over Georgia last Friday.

However, Robinson, 45, insisted: “It’s a good thing; they’ve had a rest and every Test match takes energy out of you.

“They should be four games in now but they’ve only played three and had a break they never thought they’d have.

“I think it will see them right for what’s to come and it will benefit England rather than hinder them. You have to bear in mind that if we beat Australia it could be New Zealand in the semis. They will have to raise the bar for that and that’s when sitting out that France game could really help them.

“But they have to do the job against Australia first and if they don’t get that right, it’s all over.”

On the other quarter-finals, the Yorkshireman said: “Ireland have beaten New Zealand recently so that’s going to be interesting.

“Ireland haven’t been playing as well as they can but will know on their day they have a great chance against the All Blacks.

“Japan have been superb – the first tier two side to ever reach the quarters – and only need to go back to 2015 to know they can beat South Africa while as Six Nations champions Wales will fancy beating France.”