The real significance of England’s fifth-place finish in this year’s Six Nations won’t be known until we see the team perform over the summer and of course, in the November internationals when they will face the All Blacks at Twickenham.
Is finishing second-from-bottom a true reflection of their current plight? Probably not, but what is obvious is that there are clear issues with the system and game-plan Eddie Jones has implemented over the last two years.
It has been largely successful but issues at the breakdown and the selection of certain personnel in key positions had led to some severe problems in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, the RFU have come out to give their backing to Jones and the rest of the coaching staff and although they admit they are disappointed with the Six Nations performance they are backing their man to get them out of their current predicament.
“At the moment there is no knee-jerk reaction,” RFU boss Steve Brown told BBC Sport.
“The key now is how we respond and turn things around. The reaction I’ve seen from Eddie and the coaching staff gives me some confidence that we are in a good place and we will get this back on track.”
Next up for England is the three-game tour of South Africa to take on a Springboks side who will likely improve under the new tutelage of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.
Brown realises how important this tour is for regaining confidence within the squad.
“We are on the right trajectory, although clearly not in the last three games,” Brown said.
“The reaction for me is the test as to whether someone has the calibre and character, and I’ve seen that. We will never get a bigger test than South Africa. It’s as big a series as there is every going to be.”
It’s unlikely Jones will select many of his British and Irish Lions for the tour in South Africa, so it won’t be until next November that we will see a full-strength English side and find out whether the Six Nations was just a blip or something more concerning.