Firstly, I want to hold my hands up: I called the Rugby World Cup final completely wrong.
I have rewatched the match since to try to make sense of it, and although Kyle Sinckler’s early injury helped give South Africa the ascendancy in the scrum, it was far from the biggest factor in England’s 32-12 defeat.
Put simply, England blew a gasket and got schooled all over the pitch in every facet of the game.
Although I think the scoreline flattered the Springboks a touch, they were completely deserving of the win. Credit to head coach Rassie Erasmus, who outsmarted Eddie Jones with the perfect game plan.
England went from mind-blowingly brilliant in the semi-final against New Zealand to completely mediocre when it mattered the most.
They couldn’t hack the physical contest and many of their key players, like Ben Youngs, kept making poor decisions.
Tough to call
The Rugby Football Union is now reviewing the tournament as it prepares for the future and it’s tough to call what they should do.
Nine months ago, no one would have given England a chance of winning the World Cup and yet they came within one game of doing so. The RFU needs a bit of time to let the dust settle.
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney is keen to extend Jones’s contract beyond August 2021 to reach the 2023 World Cup in France, but I have a few concerns.
This isn’t a straight case of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. Backing the same horse for another four years is a big call when that ruthless consistency doesn’t seem to be there in big games.
Personally, I wouldn’t give Jones the next four years. It can be hard to rebuild after such a crushing disappointment and change can often be a good thing.
Many of the players will still be there for France in 2023 and there’s a good spine of the squad who can provide a new coach an opportunity. The question then is: who else could England get?
There are plenty of international coaches on the market, but like Jones, Joe Schmidt, who is leaving Ireland, and Warren Gatland, who is moving on from Wales, haven’t won a World Cup and wouldn’t be a step up. The only person who might be available who definitely would be is Steve Hansen.
Stick or twist
Hansen has stepped down as New Zealand head coach after a successful eight-year spell in which he established himself as one of the greatest coaches ever. The RFU would certainly have to make him a big offer to keep him from retirement and it would undoubtedly be a bold step.
Ultimately, I think they will stick rather than twist and of course there is merit in that option.
England rugby is richer now for Jones’s involvement. The 59-year-old has developed the side over the past few years, blooding new players and briefly reaching world No1 ranking.
Having fallen short this time, he will be highly motivated to win the Webb Ellis Cup in France.
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