Rugby: England serious contenders for World Cup - Woodward

England's Danny Care kicks to touch during his side's Six Nations win over Wales. Photo / AP
England's Danny Care kicks to touch during his side's Six Nations win over Wales. Photo / AP

Clive Woodward thinks England's impressive win over Wales in the Six Nations makes them "serious contenders'' for next year's World Cup on home soil.

And he's paid them the ultimate compliment by saying the manner of their success reminded him of the England team he guided to World Cup glory back in 2003.

England's 29-18 victory on Monday had added significance as it was the last time they will play Wales, the two-time defending Six Nations champions, at Twickenham until a 2015 World Cup pool match in a 'group of death' also featuring Australia.

"It is one year, six months and 16 days until England and Wales meet again here at Twickenham in what will be the most anticipated World Cup pool match in history,'' Woodward wrote in his Daily Mail column today.

"In the course of 80 minutes on Sunday, the landscape shifted entirely.

''(England coach) Stuart Lancaster's developing side will be serious contenders at the World Cup because they are playing a brand of rugby that is bringing the best out of their undoubted talent.

"This is the first time this team really reminded me of the 2003 World Cup side because of the pack's handling skills and confidence,'' Woodward added.

England outplayed a Wales side featuring 12 British and Irish Lions from the combined team's series win in Australia last year and they made a mockery of pre-match suggestions from Wales coach Warren Gatland that it would be his "men'' playing against Red Rose "boys''.

"Warren Gatland must feel so daft about all his rhetoric in the week because his team came second in almost every facet of the game,'' said former England centre Woodward.

"The No.1 rule after a performance like that is to look in the mirror as a coach before pillorying your team so he has to take the responsibility.''

England, who still have a chance of winning the Six Nations title, conclude the tournament away to Italy on Saturday when Wales face Scotland in Cardiff with only pride to play for.

- AFP

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