At the start of the QBE Internationals there was just 44 Saturday's between England V New Zealand and the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015 on the hallowed turf of Twickenham better known to England Fans as HQ.

A lot is said of statistics in sport and when England met New Zealand in the first of the QBE internationals on the 8th of November, there were some staggering pre-match numbers.



Number of caps



Average age of caps



Average age of players












Win Percentage



This really was a game of two halves.

England took it to New Zealand in the first half and applied pressure resulting in a Johnny May try and going in ahead at half time. However there is no better team in the world at bossing the third quarter and an early try straight after the break put New Zealand in control. Poor decision making especially in the kicking game meant England never got back in the game. The result England fans has feared became a reality as England lost 21-24 and the New Zealand juggernaut rolled on.

South African has become a bit of a nemesis for England having not beaten in their last 11 matches. November 15th at 14:30 started 80 minutes in which this England team could change that statistics. England had what is becoming their trademark fast and aggressive start to the game and held possession in the first half yet frustratingly went in to the break behind.

A dismal start to the second half saw five points taken by the visitors in the first 60 seconds of play. This attack pierced the hearts of the fans, coaches and players alike and stirred England through their replacements and forward force, over the try line. England spear headed by Captain Robshaw played a second half that could have beaten many other teams in the world.

That said the boys walked off defeated 28-31.

After two defeats in two weeks November 22nd marked the day that had to bring a win and Samoa were the wall that had to be smashed through. So finally George Ford starts at 10 nudging Farrell in to the number 12 shirt. What appeared as a conservative change turned out to be inspired in the build up to Johnny May's first try which was world class.

The weather was awful for the match and decision making during the game was poor including from Robshaw. England were good defensively keeping a try scoring clean sheet in their 28-9 win over Samoa. The win also stopped a five game losing streak that needs to continue against Australia in order to draw the series and show the rest of the world, especially the Southern Hemisphere that England can challenge for the world cup. The other win from this game must be for Lancaster and his selection team; surely Morgan and Ford must be the first two names on the team sheet for the next test match.

The last chance to take Southern Hemisphere blood before the world cup came on November 29th when England faced Australia.

The next time these two teams would meet would be in their pool game in the Rugby World Cup 2015 right there on Twickenham grass. England may not have had all the possession but they turned position into points. England's threatening set piece was well oiled and starting Ford with Youngs meant England played with brains as well as Braun with a really clever kicking game. There was no kicking to backs that were out of position and pulled in to rucks as in previous games. Ford knew where his players were and utilised the spaces, while Ben Youngs box kicks were well placed and hanging giving players time to get under the ball and make field position. The team seemed to have a game plan and through the shouts of England's many leaders they seemed to execute that game plan and with that came a convincing win 26-17 against a talented Australian side.

6 points did go begging from the boot of Ford and that should ask some questions around the way England approach place kicking with anything between 1-3 club number 10's on the pitch at one time.

England may have only come away from the QBE Internationals with 2 from 4 wins but they have demonstrated a lot positive signs for next year's world cup. There is healthy competition for places giving Lancaster good options and solid replacements when injuries occur. There is a choice of kickers, something we have desperately needed in the past. What Lancaster now needs to do is work out the best way to use them and how the quarter back line functions best going in to 12 and the back line. Place kicking needs to be assigned, with more than one kick on the pitch the team needs to know who is doing what, as come the World Cup penalty points could be the difference between a win and a loss - the next round and being knocked out.

There is still a question mark over the number 12 shirt and if, like in the second half of Australia game Farrell plays outside Ford we could be conjuring a pairing reminiscent of that of Wilkinson and Catt. Despite were the 10 shirt goes I think the better number nine boot belongs to Youngs and he should be a 6 Nations starter along with my QBE player of the series Ben Morgan. The 6 Nations does provide Lancaster with some more time to play his national squad but the time for major changes has gone. The team now need to play together and get the cohesive pattern of play that the likes of New Zealand play with. There is gap between the forwards and backs and in the 6 Nations the backs will need to match the intensity of the forwards and some of that will come with experience where there are fewer caps in the backs.

Come the Rugby World Cup 2015 the pool stages will be telling for England having both Wales and Australia in their pool. Get through the pool stages and in a head to head knock out game England beat anyone. Yes New Zealand and South Africa have beaten England this month, but if like in the last two games England stick to the game plan and play with their brains and boots they will be hard to beat on the Twickenham turf in front of 82,000 fans