In stark contrast to last week’s torrential deluge, Twickenham was bathed in sunshine and a positively balmy 18˚c greeted players, fans, and Green Room guests alike. A perfect day for rugby and with the England team under fire after last week’s shock loss to Argentina, the stage was set for a rare date with Japan and a must-win match-up for Eddie Jones’ men.
This was after all, only the third time in history the ‘Roses’ and ‘Brave Blossoms’ came face to face on the rugby field. That is where the flowery comparisons end…their first meeting ended in a one-sided 60-7 marmalising of the Japanese at the 1987 Rugby World Cup which prompted many to questions Japan’s position at the top table of international rugby.
However, in the Autumn Internationals 2018, Japan arrived at Twickenham with a point to prove. Leading 15-10 at half time, the gallant Japanese could not contain their English counterparts in the second half. Scoring 25 unanswered points, England escaped with a 35-15 win.
Whilst England were arriving at Twickenham with all their pressure on their shoulders, Japan on the other hand opened their Autumn campaign this year with a tightly fought 38-31 loss to the All Blacks. A result that many Green Room guests had noted ahead of the big game on Saturday.
As guests filled The Green Room, the Guinness and Bollinger flowed freely and much of the debate between guests and our rugby legends Lawrence Dallaglio, Ben Kay and Will Greenwood was centred around England’s team selection and the danger the Japanese posed after running the All Blacks so close just a couple of weeks before. Hearing from Sir Clive Woodward about selecting players in their preferred positions and building a winning mentality also gave guest’s a real insight into coaching at the highest level of the game.
The atmosphere effervesced as nicely as the ‘Boli’ but there was a sense of underlying tension as kick-off drew closer. After last week’s loss, surely England could kickstart their Autumn Internationals 2022 campaign with a win!? Former Olympic athlete Derek Redmond and SkySports presenter Jenna Brooks both predicted an England win and with bellies filled with a delicious combination of smoked mallard to start, followed by a Japanese inspired Tonteki ribeye of pork with buttered greens, burnt apple and beetroot ketchup, it was soon time for kick-off!
Fortunately for England fans, Freddie Steward crossed for England’s first try after just 12 minutes and thereafter, England were able to score tries at regular intervals, racking up a 52-13 hammering of Japan. A much-improved performance than last week, England will have to raise their game again if they’re to have any chance of defeating the All Blacks in their third game this Autumn Internationals Series.
With a much more contended crowd than last week, jubilant guests flocked back to The Green Room for a selection of moreish post-match snacks, one or two more Guinness’ and reaction from James Haskell, David Flatman and Will Greenwood. The boys were on form as always, providing a hilarious insight into the lives of professional rugby players as well as dissecting through the finer points of the game.
As guests departed into the night after another pelter of a day in The Green Room, the chat had already turned to the visit of New Zealand. With a huge week ahead for England’s players, we’re looking forward to what is one of the most exhilarating sights in rugby – the All Blacks performing the Haka, laying down the gauntlet for England. Truly spinetingling…we can’t wait!