On this day in 2015: Sorry England make World Cup history with group-stage exit

By Sports Desk October 03, 2023

England became the first host nation to be knocked out of the Rugby World Cup at the group stage after losing 33-13 to Australia on this day in 2015.

Stuart Lancaster’s side had gone into the tournament on home soil with plenty of ambition to reclaim the World Cup they had famously won for the first time Down Under in 2003.

But those hopes were crushed on a damning night at Twickenham as the Wallabies cruised to a 20-point win to send England crashing out at the earliest stage possible.

England were in danger of exiting the tournament a week after they twice squandered a 10-point lead against Wales to lose 28-25 in Pool A, making this game a must-win encounter.

Victory over the Welsh would have seen England through to the knockout stages but they lost that match and were then ultimately outclassed by Australia’s brilliance, including an excellent performance from fly-half Bernard Foley.

The two teams exchanged early penalties but the Australians soon turned the screw, Israel Folau flying over the whitewash in the 20th minute and then again five minutes before half-time, with Foley’s conversions giving the Wallabies a 17-3 lead.

Another Foley penalty pushed England further towards the exit door and although an Anthony Watson converted try and an Owen Farrell kick pulled it back to 20-13, Farrell’s loss to the sin-bin alongside two Foley penalties put Australia further in charge before Matt Giteau dived over to rub salt into English wounds.

England’s failure to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time prompted Lancaster’s departure after a review just weeks later.

He said: “I ultimately accept and take responsibility for the team’s performance.”

After knocking England out, the Wallabies made it all the way to the final, but fell short of glory after they suffered a bruising 34-17 defeat to arch rivals New Zealand.

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