London: Flamboyant former Australia wing David Campese never misses a chance to taunt old sporting foes England and he didn’t miss the open goal presented by them becoming the first World Cup hosts to exit at the pool stage.
Even sweeter for the Aussie legend was that it came in a 33-13 whipping by the present Wallaby generation at England’s now wobbly ‘fortress’ Twickenham.
“Four years and that’s all #ENG could do? #AUS only needed a year! [since coach Michael Cheika took over] How easy was that,” tweeted the 52-year-old, who was player of the 1991 World Cup, which climaxed with Australia beating England at Twickenham in the final.
Will Carling, who was captain of the side that lost to Australia in that final, had claimed during the week coach Stuart Lancaster had not left his former post as schoolmaster behind in the classroom and treated his players like schoolboys.
However, in the aftermath of the defeat he preferred not to fan the flames on Sunday.
“Whatever the reasons, very sorry that the England players’ dreams are over,” tweeted Carling, tellingly not including the coaching staff in his message.
Many former players and coaches from all nationalities called for Lancaster to be fired and also for captain Chris Robshaw — who was already a marked man for his decision not to go for goal, which would have tied the England Wales game at 28-28 the previous week, but for a match-winning try in the dying minutes — to be dealt with in similar fashion.
Others like 2003 World Cup-winning flanker Neil Back urged caution based on his own experiences.
“In 1999 we lost to South Africa in the quarter-finals and many wanted Clive Woodward to be sacked,” wrote Back in his column for The ‘Indepdendent on Sunday’.
“The RFU stuck with him, we became the best side in the world and everyone knows what happened in 2003.
“We should let the dust settle, and then analyse whether Lancaster can do the same.”
However, Back added ‘it’s a horrible, unwanted slice of history — England have become the first host nation to exit a World Cup in the pool stages’.
“This is a disaster not just for the nation but the tournament as a whole. Both emotionally and financially, I am not sure if this Rugby World Cup can recover,” he remarked.
For his part, Woodward was in restrained form compared to his braggadocio act during the lead-up to the match where he had taunted the Aussies by declaring as a team ‘they are not the brightest’ and could ‘disintegrate’ if England kept hold of the ball.
“It has happened again — Oz team leaving Twickenham — they were just great tonight last week loss [against Wales] will haunt England,” tweeted Woodward, who famously taunted his critics back in 1999 and said he should be judged on that year’s World Cup, which he survived despite the last eight knockout.
Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes, now a respected pundit in both the written press and on TV, said the English rugby team was staring into a dark hole.
“Yesterday was the day the talking stopped — no more excuses, no days of future past, the safety net was pulled from beneath Stuart Lancaster’s boys.
“The abyss was endless, the fall from grace awful.”