The disappointment of such a comprehensive defeat by South Africa will take some getting over by everyone involved with England, especially those who experienced such devastation at our home World Cup in 2015.I do feel for every single one of them, but it should not detract from the overall World Cup campaign.
Sometimes you just get things wrong, which they did on Saturday. Eddie Jones will be the first to admit this. He seems to have failed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the South African team and sent out the same team to play the same way as they had so successfully the week before against New Zealand.
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This was a big mistake as South Africa and New Zealand at this World Cup were totally different.
As Ronan O’Gara tweeted succinctly: ‘No scrum, no win.’But this England side will not regress. This England team will get better and more consistent and they should all learn from this setback. Never forget how England rugby was reeling four years ago. From that low point, England have recovered and re-established themselves as a major force in the game.
You don’t have to look far for positives in this campaign. Their victory over New Zealand was the greatest single England performance I have seen. That is the template and England must aim to get as close to it every time, but clearly with more focus on who they are playing.There was clearly a cost to pay for the magnificent performance which we saw against New Zealand.
Emotionally it took a toll. It’s incredibly difficult just a week later to dig even deeper and reach even higher. That can come with experience and maturity, and there are many in this England team who should be around in 2023 to implement the lessons of Saturday’s painful defeat.England have some massive strengths to build on.
There is a clutch of players in the squad who have their best years ahead of them — Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, George Ford, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell, who has grown into the job as skipper. All are coming into the prime of their careers.
England coach Eddie Jones and his players watch on as South Africa lift the trophy There are also others on the fringe I would expect to start making a major impact soon, not least Joe Cokanasinga on the wing, while I believe Henry Slade will have a big role to play.
.This group also seems very grounded, and I admired the unfussy way they made their way through the rounds with the minimum of drama.Another positive is that this England team clearly decided to master.....