England entered the tournament under considerable pressure having lost five of their last six matches. Winger Jonny May admits the fear of further failure weighed heavily on him ahead of the Argentina match.
“I dread to think what it would have been like in camp if we had lost that game,” May said. “It’s been a tough, very tough four to six weeks. Rugby is a cruel game and can catch up with you at any time. You have to be there all the time and do everything you can and even when you do all that, rugby can sometimes punish you anyway.
“I live with this bit of fear. I think boys do it too, but some boys are more reward oriented. I’m probably more threat-oriented. I worry about things that could go wrong. Either way, rugby has to keep you on your toes all the time and Japan are a dangerous team, they move and pass the ball more than anyone in the world, so we’re going to have to be there. You will have to be precise. »
What is the recent history between the teams?
England and Japan have met only once before at the World Cup, in the group stages of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1987, when England won 60-7.
In their other two non-World Cup encounters, England recorded 35-15 and 52-13 victories over Japan in the 2018 and 2022 autumn internationals respectively.
What are England’s Pool D matches?
- Saturday September 9 – England 27 Argentina 10
- Sunday September 17 – England – Japan, Stade de Nice, 8 p.m.
- Saturday September 23 – England – Chile, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4:45 p.m.
- Saturday October 7 – England – Samoa, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4:45 p.m.
Who is in the England team?
England’s selection for the Rugby World Cup has been severely disrupted by injuries and suspensions, including Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola being suspended for the opening match against Argentina.
Advantages: Ollie Chessum (Leicester), Dan Cole (Leicester), Tom Curry (Sale), Theo Dan (Saracens), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ellis Genge (Bristol), Jamie George (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), George Martin (Leicester), David Ribbans (Toulon), Bevan Rodd (Sale), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Will Stuart (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens ), Jack Walker (Harlequins), Jack Willis (Toulouse).
Back : Henry Arundell (Racing 92), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Sales), Ollie Lawrence (Bath), Max Malins (Bristol), Joe Marchant (Stade Français), Jonny May (Gloucester), Alex Mitchell (Northampton), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester), Manu Tuilagi (Sales), Ben Youngs (Leicester).
You can read Will Greenwood’s verdict on the men selected.