Gregor Paul 's Opinion

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: False dawn or birth of a rugby juggernaut?

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Manu Tuilagi of England runs through to score his try during the match between England and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images
Manu Tuilagi of England runs through to score his try during the match between England and New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images

Early days but if England can reproduce Sunday's Twickenham performance on a regular basis they will be a serious threat at the next World Cup.

But the if in this scenario is of significant magnitude. False dawns are a perennial hazard in English rugby - victory has often intoxicated them in the past. One-off wins come, the nation believes, the players believe and suddenly they are counting chickens that are nowhere near hatching.

The English have every right to be proud of their stunning victory and see it as a watershed moment - an 80-minute reminder that they have rugby gold buried within them. But can they keep finding it over the next three years?

It's been almost 10 years since an England side so comprehensively outplayed the All Blacks; it was the way they bullied New Zealand all over the field that was fearsome.

All year the All Blacks have seen themselves as the biggest enemy but England changed that. They exerted pressure, built momentum and slowly, then rather quickly and lethally ripped the All Blacks to shreds.

That was champion rugby - the sort of cohesion, tempo, accuracy and excellence that hasn't been seen at Twickenham since Martin Johnson, Richard Hill, Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson were in their pomp.

And what makes them rather frightening, and a little more credible when projected down the track as international heavyweights, is that this England side had only 200 test caps and a handful of players in their early 20s.

There's room for growth, room for this side to develop and coach Stuart Lancaster has a 2015 World Cup plan, much like the All Blacks' Steve Hansen.

That may be the key difference between this England team and most of their predecessors in the past decade - they seem to have a vision of where they want to be in three years and a reasonably good idea of how to get there.

- NZ Herald

Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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