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It may take the most vivid of imaginations, but it is not inconceivable that England could end 2019 with two of the three big World Cups in their possession. Following the spectacular Cricket World Cup victory for Eoin Morgan’s side – and the eye-catching yet ultimately disappointing Women’s World Cup campaign – the rugby union side have the chance to end the year with what would be the biggest sporting triumph of the year.
And even taking into account yesterday’s Ashes First Test defeat, it is the parallels between the men’s cricket and rugby teams over the last four years that could really make this a year to remember.
The culmination of four years of rebuilding proved to be the Cricket World Cup trophy for Morgan, Trevor Bayliss and the rest of England’s cricketing heroes this summer, but that all started by stripping back the flesh of the 2015 World Cup embarrassment and working out what went so wrong in failing to make it out of the group stage.
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But if their World Cup failure was embarrassing, the rugby side’s was all the more spectacular. While the world’s best cricket teams were gathered on the other side of the world in the Antipodes, the rugby side were blowing their home tournament, following suit and crashing out at the group stage via a painful defeat by Wales.
Again, the RFU asked what went wrong, and part of the solution was very similar to the ECB’s: bring in an Australian coach and let the players start to take on responsibility. The product has been success for both sides and the belief that “team culture” is at the forefront of those revivals.
So it was not surprise to see the England rugby squad sat together to watch and celebrate their cricket counterparts’ triumph at Lord’s last month. “We were lucky that Eddie is a cricket fan so he pushed a meeting back as it went into the Super Over,” revealed England hooker Jamie George, a self-confessed cricket lover. “I don’t know
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