Joe Root’s side finished fourth in the WTC’s inaugural league table.
On Monday, the Rugby Football Union announced that fans will be able to attend three England fixtures this summer. England ‘A’ will take on Scotland ‘A’ at Welford Road on June 27 before England face back-to-back Test matches at Twickenham against USA and Canada on July 4 and July 10 respectively. It is expected that at least 10,000 spectators will be able to watch those matches while 6,000 fans should be able to attend the return of the England Saxons. While the matches themselves are not of huge significance, they represent an opportunity for England head coach Eddie Jones to press the reset button following a disappointing Six Nations campaign. In the corresponding 2017 Lions series, Jones used the tour to Argentina to unearth the likes of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill who would play such pivotal roles in the 2019 World Cup. Here we examine five key questions Jones must address heading into those summer matches. How many front-line players does he select? While England boasted the largest contingent of Lions with 11, Jones could still select the spine of his first-choice team – 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14. Four years ago, Jones took his strongest possible team to Argentina, although he reckoned there were 30 players unavailable with injuries and Lions call-ups. That meant the likes of Dylan Hartley, Billy Vunipola and George Ford all toured. Will Jones do the same now? There is no question that he will want a core of senior heads on board to set standards and expectations. But this needs to be balanced by the need to open up competition, especially in the key decision-making roles of 8-9-10. And would senior players who have just completed back-to-back seasons really benefit from Test matches against tier-two opposition rather than enjoying a summer off? Who takes over the captaincy? With Owen Farrell among those on Lions duty, Jones will need to anoint a new captain for the summer. Ford already has a senior leadership role but it depends whether he is going to be involved. If he is not then maybe it is time to look over the next rung of contenders.
This year’s tournament was suspended indefinitely last week due to the worsening Covid situation in India