I do not have the knowledge of Derek and Sandra on rugby. I’m looking at our demise in the Rugby World Cup from the point of view of continued failure in other World Cup in football and cricket as well as rugby. I am avoiding a common adjective of “under-achieving” as I no longer consider this appropriate given the number and regularity of failures.
You could argue, as our correspondents have done in the past, that the UK cannot be expected to compete in every sport at high level of achievement. We have 4 fine young sportsmen in Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray, Chris Froome and Rory McIlroy and excel in cycling, horse riding, snooker and achieved in the Olympics. Nonetheless there must be a reason why England fails at World Cups and it appears to mental brittleness. I do blame our press for raising expectation levels too high but again I do not believe this is the full explanation.
Chris Robshaw will be remembered not just for being poor in the breakdown but a captain that made the wrong option against Wales by not taking the penalty. At least we avoided the witch hunt that drove David Beckham out of the country in 1998. Fear of that media persecution as the team prepared for the match might have constrained and reduced performance. The common denominator in all 3 sports at World Cup is the lack of liberating expression. In the white ball game we lacked a buccaneer like McCallum, in football a free spirit and personally I found our rugby dull. Even worse such a free spirit Danny Cipriani did his expression off the pitch when he made ill-advised comments pre-Australia and now we read of his showdown with Mike Catt. As ever the loser in all of this is the England fan, charged to the hilt, who is yet again let down by the team.