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The knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup gets underway on Saturday when England takes on Australia in Oita.
There could hardly be a more fitting game to kick off proceedings in the quarterfinals and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest the rivalry between the two has defined the tournament’s history.
From Australia winning its first World Cup in England by defeating the hosts in the final in 1991 to England returning the favor 12 years later in Sydney courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson’s famous drop goal, England and Australia have delivered some the most iconic moments in World Cup history.
Those memories aren’t limited to the final act either. Think of England’s scrum dismantling Australia in the quarterfinals in 2007 or the Wallabies knocking England out of its own World Cup in at the group stages four years ago.
That result prompted England to radically change its course, appointing Eddie Jones—the man who led Australia to the 2003 final against England—with the firm objective of returning to the top of the world this year.
The Wallabies, meanwhile, went on to reach the final in 2015, but haven’t beaten the Old Enemy ever since.
In Jones’ first season as England coach he led his team to a 3-0 series win in Australia and has defeated his home country in each of the last three campaigns.
Off the field, the 59-year-old has also held the upper hand, coming out on top of virtually every bout of verbal sparring with his Australian counterpart, Michael Cheika.
Jones added a hefty dose of fuel to the fire when he suggested that England would benefit from not having to play France in their final group game—the match was canceled because of Typhoon Hagibis—and would be fresher than Australia.
Cheika returned the verbal volley with interests.
“I suppose they’d better win,” he said in his press conference.
“They’ve had the best preparation, according to the coach, so they’d better go out there and win. We’ll see how we go.”
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