England’s build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015 took a big step forward with a home game against France this past weekend, the first of three warm-up games ahead of the tournament.
Wood led a team that included three debutants – centres Sam Burgess and Henry Slade, and clubmate Calum Clark in the back row – but it was one of the stars of the Six Nations who caught the eye, wing Anthony Watson showing his pace and footwork to earn himself two tries.
Jonny May on the other wing grabbed the third try, with Owen Farrell kicking a pair of conversions in a 19-14 win, keeping bragging rights on the north side of the English Channel after the 100th match between the old rivals.
“After seven or eight weeks of hard graft it was great to put it into action out there on the field,” Wood told the England Rugby podcast. “I’m dead proud of the lads and chuffed for all the debutants, who I think gave good accounts of themselves.
“We had some new combinations and you’ve got to find the answers to some questions. Now’s the time to do it, and we’ll learn a lot from the game. We made substitutions earlier than we might normally do, had some sin bins which were hard to manage, but we still came away with a win against a good French side.
“It’s great to get off the mark. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and there’s plenty to work on, but we’ll always take a win at Twickenham.”
After leading England to an unbeaten tour in Argentina in 2013, Saturday evening was the first time that Wood led out his country on home turf. And while he acknowledged that it will go down as one of the highlights of his career the flanker insists that it is not something to dwell too much over in the present.
“It is an honour, but I try not to build it up to be more than it is, to be honest,” Wood added. “When I reflect back on it I’ll be very proud, but it’s important to not make it just about me. It’s a team effort and I’m surrounded by leaders, and I rely on that.”
England continue their summer programme away to France this coming Saturday evening, with a home match against Ireland on Saturday, September 5th.