All that remains for England is to contest a dead rubber against Uruguay, amid what appears sure to be a flat atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium next weekend.
“All things are being considered, but I won’t be walking away for now”.
“It’s not the time now to make a decision like that”.
“Lessons will be learnt in a calm and thorough manner in the fullness of time, post-tournament”.
Clive Woodward, who masterminded England’s win over Australia in the final of the 2003 World Cup in Sydney, said the current version of the Wallabies weren’t the “brightest” bunch but the visitors had more than enough intelligence – and skill – to swat aside England. It was the country’s worst performance at that level since 1958.
Ritchie said England chiefs stood by their controversial policy of omitting foreign-based stars such as Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage and Clermont Auvergne full-back Nick Abendanon – the last two recipients of the European Player of the Year award.
The rugby team’s plight was perhaps more embarrassing considering it was playing at home.
The stakes are impossibly high as England seek to record a third successive victory over an Australia team that won this summer’s Rugby Championship, and Lancaster knows the moment must be seized. They have since finished second in Europe’s Six Nations contest four years in a row.
Lancaster dropped George Ford, England’s starting flyhalf for the past year and orchestrator of the team’s emboldened attacking game plan, for the crucial matches against Wales and Australia, and named his 18th different flyhalf-centers combination against the Wallabies.
Vunipola denied reports on Sunday night that he had expressed views against the England management, tweeting: “Hearing a few rumours that I’ve been saying negative stuff about England”.
“The foundations are still very strong but clearly we weren’t ready to win and get out of this pool”.
But with England out and South Africa battered after their defeat by Japan, others are already looking to a first ever Australia-New Zealand final. “Everything was in England’s favour and they should have cashed in”.
It is Wales and Australia who will progress from the toughest group in tournament history – they meet for first place in Pool A at Twickenham on Saturday – while the hosts face an inglorious climax against Uruguay in Manchester.
“They’ve had a hard run with injuries and that can sometimes galvanise your team”, Cheika said.
RFU chairman Bill Beaumont extended his sympathy to the players, who he believed would have been shattered by this early exit.
“You can dominate one and get your trousers pulled down on the next if you’re not on top of the game”.
Ritchie appointed Lancaster and 12 months ago awarded him and his lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt new contracts expiring in 2020, despite the failure to win any silverware of note.
“This is set to be the biggest world tournament to date”, he said.
“Obviously I have to think about it. It’s not one for now, we still have another week to go but the responsibility and accountability rests with me”, Lancaster admitted.