Former Preston Grasshoppers player and ex-director of rugby at Lightfoot Green writes every Friday for the Evening Post
Oh dear, oh dear. Let the recriminations begin.
England bowed out of the World Cup at the pool stage, having been outclassed by a superb display from a Wallabies side that made a mockery of some ill-judged comments about their abilities in the build-up to the game.
To say that the Australian side was “a bit thick” and “that none of their players would get in the current England side” were amazingly crass statements to make before the game.
And they were made to look even more ridiculous – if that was possible – on Saturday evening.
As I said in this column a few weeks ago, England arrived at the tournament with far too many unknowns.
No settled selection, a lack of experience and not having nailed down a style of play, were all indicative of muddled thinking from those in charge.
Add in the problems of integrating the latecomer that was Sam Burgess and it all started to look a disorganised mess.
There should be no excuses.
Sufficient time and huge resources were made available to Stuart Lancaster and his management team to ensure that England arrived at the tournament ready to take on the best.
As with every other national sporting failure of recent times, there will now be a full review into what went wrong.
If there is one thing that English sporting organisations should be world class at, it would be post tournament inquests.
Perhaps the RFU can speak to their counterparts at the FA and ECB to see if they can borrow their notes.
Make no bones about it, this is a big opportunity lost by English rugby to inspire a next generation of players and supporters.
There will be many theories and reasons put forward in the coming weeks but is time for honesty in the English game.
It is time for the RFU to start showing some real leadership about how it intends to raise the standard of the “elite” professional game.
Those who still believe all is good with the current structure need to start embracing the bigger picture rather than selfishly protecting their own little acres.
For me a starting point would be to address the fact that there are too many “professional” clubs within the elite game.
The current structure is great for producing lots of average players, who will never be good enough to play international rugby, but is certainly not good enough at developing enough world-class players.
Some tough decisions lie ahead if the RFU really do want England to return to the top of the international game.
In my column last week I made certain comments about the Hoppers team and the need for more leadership from the experienced players and a collective need to “T-CUP” – Thinking Correctly Under Pressure – in close games.
Well those words appear to have touched a nerve judging by some lively texts I received from some of the players after the team’s superb win at Stourbridge on Saturday afternoon!
I was delighted to receive those messages but I won’t be eating humble pie just yet.
Don’t get me wrong, Stourbridge do not lose many games at home so it was a fantastic win at one of the toughest places to go to in the league.
But before anyone gets carried away, Hoppers now have to back up last week’s heroics with another strong performance at early season strugglers Broadstreet tomorrow.
As Alan Jones – the great Australian coach – used to say about inconsistency: “One week a rooster, the next week a feather duster.”
They will be expected to go to the Coventry-based side and win.
That brings with it a different sort of pressure.
But it is a pressure they need to embrace and overcome if they want to build on last Saturday.
Hoppers are entering a series of games where they should be backing themselves to get a run of consecutive wins under their belts.
If they can do this then the table by the end of October will begin to look promising.
For me the jury is still out as to whether the collective mentality is strong enough to now get some back-to-back victories.
Those senior players who stood up to be counted last weekend now have to set the tone when there is a level of expectancy.
If they can do that then I will be more than happy to receive more texts come Saturday teatime.