It has been a challenging week for the Rugby Football Union (RFU) following the conclusion of another disappointing Six Nations for England and Eddie Jones.
The expectation, which the RFU have helped to foster, is that England should be the best team in the world.
But the reality, as winning just two games at the Six Nations showed, is that they’re miles away from the leading international rugby sides.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, with some encouraging aspects to England’s championship, like good players coming into the side and standing up to the challenge.
Joe Marchant, Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds and Freddie Steward – we’ve been clamouring for some of these players to get a chance and they mostly delivered.
But a lack of continuity and precision cost England. The defence was always creaking when put under pressure, while they didn’t pose enough questions in attack.
South Africa might have won the World Cup by kicking the leather off the ball but seeing England adopt that as Plan A in France last weekend was a bit embarrassing.
With Jones coming under fire this week, the RFU attempted to ease the pressure with a statement saying they were “encouraged by solid progress”.
Like plenty of other people, I just don’t believe that can be true. But at the same time, I’m not sure what else the RFU can say.
Why Eddie Jones comes into his own at World Cups
Jones has lost a bit of the aura he had when he first arrived in 2015, and perhaps players as well as supporters have grown a bit tired of him.
But you have to hand it to him when it comes to World Cups. He is the master of that short but intense environment, as he showed by getting an ordinary England team to the final in 2019.
Inconveniently for the RFU, though, Jones’s fairly miserable brand of rugby is at odds with their aim of coaxing people back into the game.
I’ve been saying he should go for ages. The ideal time would have been after the World Cup, which was an awesome run.
The RFU’s problem, were they minded to sack Jones, is finding someone to come in 18 months before the 2023 tournament.
I’m convinced they want Steve Borthwick to succeed him, but it’s too soon. Until he’s won something at Leicester he won’t leave and England won’t appoint him.
So the RFU is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can’t encourage the wolves waiting at the door for Jones, so they have had little choice but to toe the party line.
Wales on the Wayne: Pivac must go
On the topic of coaches on thin ice, how is Wayne Pivac still in the Wales job? Beaten by Italy at the Six Nations, they are awful and have been for some time.
Like their English counterparts, the Welsh union won’t want to make a change but sometimes you have to do the right thing. Pivac has to go.
Electric Bleus: France are World Cup favourites
France were worthy Grand Slam winners: amazing in defence and electric in attack, they’re great news for rugby and must be favourites for next year’s home World Cup.
Having beaten New Zealand and South Africa in the autumn too, the biggest threat to them is that they believe their own hype. They will need to go up another level in 2023.
Former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips is the founder of Optimist Performance, experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Follow Ollie on Twitter and on LinkedIn.