Three games into their own World Cup, England are out.
Saturday night’s defeat to Australia means 16 days into the tournament England are no longer involved.
And I hate to say it – and I’m no Rugby expert or analyst by any stretch, but I could see it coming.
If the previous week’s loss also at Twickenham to Wales wasn’t bad enough, defeat to Australia in Saturday’s ‘do or die’ encounter just about sums things up from a nervy campaign.
The air of expectation for England to do well and be up there to win the tournament on home soil has been nothing short of immense. That’s what comes with ‘home’ advantage and being hosts and the hopes of a nation on your shoulders.
And there was perhaps a hint of arrogance – by England fans and followers alike, thinking their team just had to turn up to win the Webb Ellis trophy as it was on their home patch.
However, right from the opening game of the tournament against Fiji it seems the burden of expectation has probably got the better of the team.
First there was a nervous performance over the Fijians – albeit a winning one, which you can perhaps understand with it being the first game of the competition.
(you only have to look at South Africa’s first game against Japan, and to an extent the performances of the All Blacks in their opening game – everyone wants to get the first game out of the way and get their tournament started)
But from there, any excuses end.
Ever since it was drawn, the game against Wales was always going to be close, let alone emotionally charged.
And there was that expectancy that 1. England would win, 2. England would qualify for the knockout stages most likely at Wales’ expense.
And with a lead to the good and victory in sight, that seemed the case.
However, nerves it seems got the better of England. Mistakes crept in, were punished and it all started to unravel.
Perhaps the shock, nerves, panic (?) and anxiety also attributed to clouded thinking and judgement in the final minutes when they opted to go for a try when a kick at goal may have salvaged a draw.
From there, the added pressure – effectively put upon themselves, by losing to the Welsh meant they had to beat Australia to survive.
And with so much riding on the game, England just didn’t turn up and deliver when it mattered.
Australia, well, quite frankly they did a thorough professional job on Stuart Lancaster’s side.
I did call it though.
Australia have had a useful summer (or winter in their case) in the Southern hemisphere winning the Rugby Championship over New Zealand and South Africa.
And perhaps omens were there for revenge in the 2003 World Cup Final in Australia!
These things have a habit of coming back on themselves don’t they!
So, England have the unwanted tag of being the first host nation to go out of a Rugby World Cup in the group stages.
And it is also the earliest England have ever exited the tournament.
So whilst they lick their wounds, and reports and post mortems on everything from their performances to preparations to the state of rugby at grassroots level (always a good excuse) are unveiled, there is still the small matter of who will go onto win the Rugby World Cup now the hosts are no longer in the picture.
The next few weeks will be interesting – regardless of England not being involved.
And I’m still favouring an All Black success.