Rugby World Cup 2019: Poor discipline could cost England - Sir Clive Woodward

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell escaped punishment for controversial tackles against South Africa and Australia last year
2019 Rugby World Cup
Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September to 2 November
Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Poor discipline could be the only "chink" in England's chances of winning the Rugby World Cup, says former head coach Sir Clive Woodward.

Woodward guided England to World Cup glory in 2003 and says they can emulate that achievement in Japan - if they can keep 15 men on the pitch.

He believes some players' "track records" could prove costly.

Eddie Jones' England play Tonga in their tournament opener in Sapporo next Sunday (11:15 BST).

They then meet the United States before tougher examinations against Argentina and France complete their group fixtures.

"There's many strengths," Woodward told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek on Sunday. "They've got this very powerful team.

"This is what I call an X-factor team - but quite a few of the starting XV have got a track record of losing it in a game when under pressure.

"There's been a lot of focus on the rules regarding neck-high tackles. If you're playing France and Argentina, top teams, and get a guy sent off then the chance of winning that game is going to be very difficult.

"You need every single player to play under pressure and play within the laws of the game."

Australian Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster as head coach after hosts England were knocked out at the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

Woodward, who led the side from 1997-2004, is confident they will reach the final on 2 November in Yokohama but says they must set the pace in matches.

"Eddie came into the job thinking English rugby is tough and combustible, as he's called it," said the 63-year-old.

"He's built an England team around how he saw England playing in the past. They are tough and very aggressive. The key thing for me is they've got to play quick.

"It doesn't matter how tough and physical you are, if you play slowly you are not going to win. If they can play at a real pace they have got every chance."

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