|2019 Rugby World Cup|
|Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September to 2 November|
|Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.|
England scrum-half Ben Youngs says he wants something special from his third World Cup after the bitter disappointments of 2011 and 2015.
Youngs is one of four survivors, along with centre Manu Tuilagi and forwards Dan Cole and Courtney Lawes, from the squad that travelled to New Zealand eight years ago.
England were beset by off-field controversies as they went out in the quarter-finals in 2011, and then failed to get out of the group stages four years ago.
Youngs said: “Neither of them was the outcome I wanted.
“I think anyone wants to look back at the end of their career and feel proud of success – and the World Cup is always the pinnacle.
“This opportunity here with this side is probably the best shot I have of being able to look back at a period of my career and say, yeah, that was something really special.”
‘There were a lot of distractions that didn’t help’
Youngs was just 22 when he made his World Cup debut in New Zealand eight years ago, scoring the critical try in Dunedin as England squeezed past Argentina in their first group game.
But they struggled from that point on, an infamous team night out in Queenstown creating a tabloid storm and Tuilagi being fined after jumping off a ferry into Auckland harbour.
Their defeat by a France team that had itself lost to underdogs Tonga led to the resignation of head coach Martin Johnson and three separate reviews into what had gone wrong at what the RFU’s director of elite rugby, Rob Andrew, later called “the World Cup from hell”.
Youngs told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I’m proud of the fact I’ve been to two World Cups before – I’m proud of 2011 in that I was there, and in 2015 representing England at a home World Cup, which was an achievement in itself.
“Every experience is different. They all teach you something. And the biggest experience from 2011 was making sure you stay focused on the pitch and deliver on that.
“There were a lot of distractions going on in that tournament that didn’t help us to deliver.
“World Cups are strange things, and I don’t have the magic formula – it’s sport, it happens. It happened to us.
“I can sit here and say I’m determined it won’t happen again, but I can’t guarantee it.
“But it’s what coming up that matters – about this group now under Eddie Jones. There are many guys who played in 2011 and 2015 who didn’t get another opportunity at a World Cup.”
‘They are big guys so we have to be smart’
England open their campaign against Tonga in Sapporo on Sunday.
The Pacific islanders were thumped 92-7 by New Zealand in a warm-up match this month, conceding 14 tries.
But Youngs – the most capped number nine in English history – is wary of the threat they might pose in the tournament proper.
“When you play Tonga and Samoa and South Africa, you know they’re regarded as the most physical teams, and they seldom disappoint,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure that physically we’re up to the challenge – they’re going to get a lot of belief through how they carry the ball and how they tackle.
“They are big guys, so we have to be smart about how we carry the ball and which channels we go down – they certainly won’t give us any room around the ruck or getting momentum round there.
“You have to be patient. What you have to avoid is falling into the trap of fool’s gold space, where you see what you think is space or an opportunity and shift it too early, and then they get cover there.
“There’s no hiding – you have to get through a team first before you can create the space out wide.
“They can lure you out there and then, boom, they close it down and then go really hard at the breakdown and make it very hard for you.”