Chris Robshaw believes Eddie Jones should take England to the 2023 World Cup in France, where he expects at least two-thirds of the players who went all the way to the final in Japan still to be in contention. The disappointment felt after losing to South Africa did not compare with the dejection in 2015 after the England side Robshaw captained became the first hosts not to make the knockout stages.
“I do not know what the mood in the camp is but Eddie is the man to take it to the next World Cup,” said Robshaw at Wednesday’s launch of the European Champions Cup. “He knows how to get the best out of everyone. I have a number of friends in the squad and you could see how down they were after the final after the high of the week before.
“I felt for them and mentally it will be challenging for them coming back to their clubs where they will need to be managed, but the future for England is very bright and they can look back on a tournament in which they came so close. The feeling of disappointment this year is very different from that in 2015.
“It is a young side and they can build on a World Cup in which they reached the final after beating the holders. The next four-year cycle looks bright and there are players coming through the Premiership left, right and centre putting their hands up.”
Robshaw had another three seasons in the white jersey after the 2015 disappointment before a knee operation last autumn forced him to miss the November internationals, and there was no way back when he returned to fitness. At the age of 33 he is resigned to finishing his international career on 66 caps.
“It was disappointing to miss the World Cup but it was out of your control,” said the Harlequins captain, who will lead his side at Clermont Auvergne on Saturday evening in their second Champions Cup campaign in five years.
“When you look at how well the two flankers played you cannot argue. Tom Curry and Sam Underhill were both brilliant, England’s players of the tournament I thought. Their form made it a bit easier to take.
“You look at the guys coming through in the back row, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt, Zach Mercer, Will Evans and Ted Hill, and they are the future. Much as I would like to say there will be another opportunity for me, I do not think so. It is tough to take but you have to look back and think what you have done in the white shirt and the honour I had of captaining the side as many times as I did. You just want one more chance.”
Harlequins have not reached the knockout stage of the Champions Cup since 2013, although since then they have reached the Challenge Cup final and made the last four in it last season, when they lost narrowly to their opponents this weekend, Clermont, in France. “We are in a tough group with Bath and Ulster but it is not easy for anyone,” he said. “I do not think there is any better place to start the tournament in than Clermont. We know what to expect having been there earlier this year and then we have Bath at home. We have waited for this opportunity for a while and we do not want to be a passenger in the group.
“It is easier said than done but it is time for all the English clubs in the tournament, not just Saracens, to do their bit in Europe. The rest of us need to start making the most of being in the competition.”
The World Cup means a later start to the Champions Cup this season. Pool matches will be played 15‑17 Nov, 22-24 Nov, 6-8 Dec, 13-15 Dec, 10-12 Jan, 17-19 Jan. The quarter-finals will be played 3-5 April 2020, semi-finals 2-3 May and the Marseille final on 23 May.
Pool 1 Benetton, Leinster, Lyon, Northampton
Pool 2 Exeter, Glasgow, La Rochelle, Sale
Pool 3 Clermont Auvergne, Bath, Harlequins, Ulster
Pool 4 Munster, Ospreys, Racing 92, Saracens
Pool 5 Connacht, Gloucester, Montpellier, Toulouse