The good news for the All Blacks is that England, by popular demand the team most likely to dethrone the double World Cup champions, are a one dimensional team, or even half dimensional on a bad day.

The bad news is that one dimension can win a World Cup. No problem.

England's World Cup stocks will have fallen after the Welsh Six Nations triumph in Cardiff, a win that is being trumpeted as something grander than it really was.

The World Cup is shaping a bit like the stock market — there's little shape. The slightest bit of good or bad news, and the numbers go crazy.


In the end, Wales won by default. England kind of handed it to them, bleeding penalties and losing the very impressive Courtney Lawes to injury as the heat went on.

It can be hard to work out if a match in Cardiff is good or bad with all that amazing singing going on. All the statistical analysis in the world can't relay what an all-consuming atmosphere gives any sport. England's supporter even got a couple of "Sweet Chariots" in. The Six Nations is very special.

Principality Stadium is so vibrant it could make break dancing seem like an Olympic sport. It could even make squash seem like an Olympic sport.

But strip away the occasion and you would have to say that world rugby is not in a great state if the two sides on show, the way they played, might actually be the best in the world.

Physically, it was one hell of a battle and terrific to watch. Wales v England was a great occasion.

But as the match wore on, the rugby itself felt very ordinary. One Manu Tuilagi run was about the only time anyone saw clear air. A lot of the kicking was rubbish. The skills and co-ordination were ordinary, considering we are deep into the tournament.

Jonny May, the world's best wing apparently, hardly got a touch. Wales mounted a brilliant comeback to claim victory without actually doing anything very brilliant, save for a fantastic aerial take by wing Josh Adams, who left Elliot Daly clutching for air.

Wales actually looked cumbersome under the direction of Gareth Anscombe, formerly of these parts, when they tried to move the ball. Somehow, Owen Farrell — the best No. 10 general in the world — was just as bad for England.


The only angle in England's attack was provided by Farrell's usually tame cross field kicks. He also made a lot of mistakes.

The match-turning kick was delivered by Anscombe's impressive replacement, Dan Biggar. And so the Welsh train rolls on.

But if England can turn up in Japan with a fit forward pack — they were minus two aces in Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje at Cardiff — then they are in with a major shot. The World Cup is often an exhausting war of attrition, as anyone who saw the All Blacks grinding to a halt in the 2011 final will know.

Losing their attacking bottle comes naturally to England, and putting the fancy stuff away is how World Cups can be won.

The fewer dimensions England think they have, the more dangerous they are. They have some mean hombres in the forwards, and some fresh legs in that pack. When Farrell is on song, he could even stop the Welsh singing.

As for Wales, I doubt that their best will be good enough in the World Cup. Of the northern sides, Ireland are still a bigger threat.