Old rivalry at play as England meet Australia

Saturday, October 19th, 2019 00:00 |
Australia’s centre Samu Kerevi (left) watches fly-half Christian Lealiifano kick the ball during the Captain’s Run session at Oita Stadium in Oita. Photo/PD/AFP

When England face Australia in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Oita it will be the latest chapter in a sporting rivalry stretching back over 140 years.

Cricket the national summer sport of both countries -- has been the cornerstone, with England and Australia playing the first Test match at Melbourne back in 1877.

This year alone England beat Australia in a men’s World Cup semi-final before lifting the trophy for the first time, while the two sides shared a five-match Ashes Test series 2-2 with one draw, although Australia’s women dominated a multi-format Ashes campaign during the recently concluded English season.

When Douglas Jardine was named England captain for the 1932/33 tour of Australia, Rockley Wilson, his old cricket master at the elite Winchester school, quipped: “We may well win the Ashes, but we may very well lose a dominion.”

Wilson’s words were very nearly proved correct, with Jardine’s use of controversial ‘Bodyline’ bowling tactics, primarily designed to curb Australian run-machine Don Bradman, helping England to a series win but also leading to an off-field crisis that almost provoked a breakdown in diplomatic relations.

According to cliched views in both countries, the English or Poms “whinge” while the “ugly” Australians care only for winning at all costs.

There is some truth, however, in the view held by many Australians that “England don’t have a problem with losing -- they have a problem with winning”, with sport more central to the way Australia projects itself to the world than in Britain, the “mother country”. - AFP

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