England emphatically lay ghosts of 2015 to rest
George Ford insists England have buried the memory of their dismal World Cup performance four years ago after claiming a quarter-final place in Japan.
Eddie Jones’ title contenders became the first team to secure passage into the knockout phase after beating Argentina 39-10 at Tokyo Stadium, a third successive bonus-point victory.
With a game to spare – Saturday’s Pool C climax against France – England have already surpassed their showing in 2015 when they became the first host nation to exit the tournament at the group stage.
“It’s a bit of a different feeling,” said Ford, who was present when defeats to Wales and Australia ushered in one of Twickenham’s darkest hours.
Jones and his coaching lieutenants scouted Wales’ pool win over Australia last week knowing England would face one of the heavyweights in the last eight.
The line-up will be determined next weekend but Ford, who was superb against Argentina as he enjoys an extended run at flyhalf, refuses to look beyond France.
“France are a very dangerous team so we just have to prepare for the best French team next week. It’s going to be a challenging game.
“You’ve seen at this World Cup so far that the French flair when they get going – their offloading game – makes them very dangerous.”
A clearer picture over the fitness of Billy Vunipola will emerge in the next 24 hours as the Saracens number eight continues to be medically assessed.
Vunipola hobbled off at half-time with his left ankle heavily strapped but the initial prognosis is that the sprain is not too severe.
A doubt also hangs over the fitness of loosehead prop Joe Marler, who appeared to clutch his hamstring as he left the pitch in the second half.