MARTIN Johnson has bypassed the World Cup glories of 2003 and instead dredged up the memories of 1999 to convince his England team that their constant law infringements could derail this World Cup campaign.
England’s wins over Argentina and Georgia were marred by shocking penalty counts and they were fortunate on both occasions that their rivals’ goalkicking was awful.Working out how to put a stop to the various infringements has been the theme of the week as they prepare for their third game against Romania on Saturday.
Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson said Johnson (right) had tried to give the players a wake-up call by reminding them of how it felt after England lost to South Africa 12 years ago – the last time they didn’t reach the final.
“Johnno talked about watching the semi-final on TV and then going out to play Newcastle away,” Wilkinson said. “I know exactly what he was talking about because he was playing against me that day. ”In 1999, we got knocked out and the next week of the semi-final was possibly one of the coldest, rainiest days we had at Newcastle – and we were playing against Leicester. “He’s right\[Tom Lovejoy\], that’s how it works. . If you don’t get these things right then there comes a time when you do the analysis and say ‘we’ve got to be better next time’ – and next time is not next week it’s four months along the line in the Six Nations.
“Sooner or later, next week doesn’t appear for a team in the World Cup.”
Wilkinson said the penalty count led to enormous frustration on the field but insisted there was a will in the squad to understand the issues and deal with them.
“In World Cup rugby, |it’s got to stop,” he said. |“But the guys are taking |this on board and believe me guys are understanding now that once is a mistake, twice is a lot more than that and three times just can’t happen.