The scoreline suggests a far from even contest but two tries from man of the match Manu Tuilagi along with five-pointers from Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie put gloss on what was a hard game for the 2003 winners.
The game started off with both teams really having a go and it took until the 10th minute for the opening score of the game which came from the boot of England captain Owen Farrell as he struck over a simple penalty.
Tonga responded well however, and were back level within four minutes when scrum-half Tane Takulua knocked over a penalty of his own.
The underdogs going into the game began to look the better of the two sides until England’s Tuilagi crashed over to score the opening try of the game following a 5-metre scrum that they gained after originally being held up.
Farrell was unsuccessful with the kick so it remained 8-3.
England were further ahead just after the half-hour mark when they put the ball through the backs and out to Jonny May who darted down the left before setting Tuilagi on his way for his second try of the game. Farrell made no mistake with the conversion this time to make it 15-3.
Farrell slotted over another penalty late in the half to give England an 18-3 lead going in at the break.
Again, Farrell struck the opening points of the half with a penalty on 42 minutes as England looked to increase their advantage.
They pressed the Tongan defence for most of the second-half, but the Tongan side were up for the challenge and it wasn’t until the 57th minute that England got over the try-line once more.
Hooker George going over from a driving maul off the back of a perfect line-out. Farrell converted to make it 28-3.
The rest of the game was full of handling errors and sloppy mistakes, with England unable to secure the bonus point until the 73rd minute as their substitutes made a massive impact.
Jamie Joseph took the ball up in the middle of the pitch, darting through a gap between two men in red before passing the ball to fellow replacement Cowan-Dickie within the Tongan 22, leaving him with the simple task of running in for their fourth try. Farrell made light work of the conversion.
England failed to make their dominance in the final minutes count and it was Tonga who looked the more likely to score in the end as they refused to give up on trying to find a try of their own going into an additional five minutes before unfortunately knocking on leaving the score at 35-3.
Although not a flawless performance, England will be happy with the win, but will be worried about the fitness of star winger May who went of injured in the second-half.
England will look to continue their winning ways when they take on the USA on Thursday, while Tonga will be more confident of getting a result against Argentina next Saturday after an encouraging performance.
England Player Ratings:
Elliot Daly (7), Anthony Watson (7), Manu Tuilagi (9), Owen Farrell (8), Jonny May (6), George Ford (7), Ben Youngs (7), Joe Marler (6), Jamie George (7), Kyle Sinckler (7), Courtney Lawes (6), Maro Itoje (8), Tom Curry (7), Sam Underhill (7), Billy Vunipola (7)
Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.
World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video
While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.
The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.
The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions.
World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.
Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.
RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.
How the draw worked
As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.
Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.
The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.
Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023
- Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
- 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
- RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France
World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.
With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.
The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.
The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.
The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.
RWC 2023 qualification principles
- Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
- Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2
- Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
- Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
- Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
- Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner
Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.
“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.
“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.
“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”
Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.
“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”
Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.
Official Press Release from World Rugby