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From the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup through to March, 2017, England won a record 18 straight test matches.
Saturday is a chance to recapture that glory. In fact, after England lost to Ireland on March 18, 2017, the team in white reeled off seven more victories, bolstering the already impossibly high image of coach Eddie Jones.
But 2018 has been difficult. A 2-3 finish in the Six Nations, and then a 1-2 series loss to South Africa have England on a six-game schneid.
This week, England hopes to get some revenge on South Africa, hosting the Springboks at Twickenham, and LIVE for US fans on FloRugby.
He has some good player news, including the return of Chris Ashton (who left Toulon for Sale and is back I the England fold), and the chance the lanky lock Courtney Lawes might be fit to play after struggling with injury.
“It’s a lower back injury, he’s had it for a while and missed a number of games for Northampton,” Jones said. Lawes came into camp, and then left because he needed more treatment, but apparently, that’s done the job.
"We’re hopeful he’ll be in contention for selection,” said Jones. “He is a 65-cap player, Lions international, ball carrier and great defender. He would be a big loss so we just have to pick up the slack and that’s the great opportunity of these Test matches.”
Ashton, meanwhile, is the prodigal wing returned, after touching England for three tries while playing for the Barbarians over the summer.
“I’ve never stopped fighting or wanting to play for England,” Ashton told the press. “I thought at one time that decision might be taken away from me by having a couple of bans so I changed things and tried something new and went to France and that worked out really well for me and I feel better for the experience.”
Could the Ashton magic be enough for England to break out of its funk? We’ll see.