September 26, 2017 / 7:41 PM / in a year

England have 'no excuse' not to dominate world rugby

LONDON (Reuters) - England have “no excuse” not to be the most powerful rugby nation in the world, the new Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Steve Brown said.

Since losing to Australia in the World Cup in 2015, England have won 20 of their last 21 matches and under Eddie Jones have climbed to second in the world rankings — behind only world champions New Zealand.

Brown, who previously worked as the RFU’s chief financial officer for six years, takes over an economically powerful governing body who last year turned over a record 407 million pounds ($548 million).

“We want to be the strongest country for rugby across the globe,” Brown told the BBC. “I don’t think there’s an excuse not to be that.

“We may have been a bit modest in the past, but we are very clear and very open that we want to win.

“We potentially have the best rugby opportunity in the world and we need to make the most of that.

“We want to win and we want to win everything we’re involved in — not just the men’s team but the women too and with every team we have.

“It’s my job to make sure we deliver on that promise.”

Brown also echoed Jones’s stance that “everything is geared up around winning” the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.

The start of the domestic season, however, has been overshadowed by concerns over player welfare.

Talismanic forward Billy Vunipola was ruled out for four months with a knee injury on Sunday and the 24-year-old later said plans to extend the Premiership season in 2019-2020 could cause players to burn out.

“The player welfare piece that is in the public domain at the moment is important, and it’s important we listen to the players,” Brown added.

“Clearly they want to be heard - and now is the time for us to listen. I want to get the facts and really understand what the challenges might be. Let’s find a solution that works for everybody.”

Reporting By Tom Hayward; Editing by Toby Davis

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