England vs Australia: Rugby World Cup 2019 The knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup gets underway on Saturday when England takes on Australia in Oita.There could hardly be a more fitting game to kick off proceedings in the quarterfinals and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest the rivalry between the two has defined the tournament’s history.
From Australia winning its first World Cup in England by defeating the hosts in the final in 1991 to England returning the favor 12 years later in Sydney courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson’s famous drop goal, England and Australia have delivered some the most iconic moments in World Cup history.
Those memories aren’t limited to the final act either. Think of England’s scrum dismantling Australia in the quarterfinals in 2007 or the Wallabies knocking England out of its own World Cup in at the group stages four years ago.
That result prompted England to radically change its course, appointing Eddie Jones—the man who led Australia to the 2003 final against England—with the firm objective of returning to the top of the world this year.
The Wallabies, meanwhile, went on to reach the final in 2015, but haven’t beaten the Old Enemy ever since.In Jones’ first season as England coach he led his team to a 3-0 series win in Australia and has defeated his home country in each of the last three campaigns.
Off the field, the 59-year-old has also held the upper hand, coming out on top of virtually every bout of verbal sparring with his Australian counterpart, Michael Cheika.
Jones added a hefty dose of fuel to the fire when he suggested that England would benefit from not having to play France in their final group game—the match was canceled because of Typhoon Hagibis—and would be fresher than Australia.
Verbal jousting aside, neither side has been completely convincing so far, though England has been more impressive than Australia.The 2003 winners topped Pool C with three wins in three games, before the game against France was canceled.
Australia, meanwhile, were sloppy in wins against Fiji and Georgia and narrowly lost to Wales, who frustrated the Wallabies by dominating them at the breakdown.That area of the game will be crucial on Saturday, when Cheika will hope Michael Hooper and David Pocock can inflict as much damage on England as they did four years ago.
The duo have a combined 180 caps and their experience could prove crucial against Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, whose combined caps tally stands at 28.The duo has impressed under Jones and they have again been picked to start, but the England coach has unexpectedly rolled the dice with his selection.
By far the biggest surprise is the omission of fly-half George Ford. One of England’s best performers at the World Cup, Ford has been dropped, with captain Owen Farrell moving from the No. 12 to the No. 10 role.Farrell has struggled for form and has only started at fly-half once since the Six Nations ended in March.
His move to No. 10 sees Henry Slade come in at outside center, while Manu Tuilagi moves to No. 12 as Jones reverted to the midfield trio he preferred during the Six Nations.Australia defend a certain way—we believe these three players can trouble their defense, and defensively we feel like it’s a pretty strong 10-12-13 combination,” Jones was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“We know Australia are a high possession team, they are a high phase team and that’s how they want to play.And so there’s going to be a lot of defending in that area, and we think those three guys are well equipped to handle it.”
Meanwhile, Mako Vunipola starts in the front row for the first time since May after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of Saturday.
When and where is the game?
England takes on Australia at Oita Stadium in Oita on Saturday, October 19.
Kick-off is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. local time (3:15 a.m. ET).
The game will be live both on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold—a single match pass for the latter costs $29.99.
Fans can follow the action in several ways. Live streams will be available via NBCSportsGold.com and NBC will broadcast the matches on desktop, mobile tablet and connected devices.
Live streams will also be available via Apple and Android devices, as well as Amazon Fire TV and Roku and via fuboTV.
The two teams have played each other 50 times and the series is almost perfectly balanced, with Australia winning on 25 occasions and England prevailing 24 times.
England, however, has won the last six games against the Wallabies, including three straight wins in Australia.
According to Oddschecker, England is a 33/100 favorite, while Australia is a 13/5 underdog and the draw is at 30/1.