The last time South Africa lost all their autumn Tests they at least went down swinging.
Back at the start of the month, South Africa’s head coach, Allister Coetzee, was asked about the “aura” of his side.
Imagine if this had been the opening game of a World Cup, rather than the first weekend of the 2016 autumn series. A year ago England were hopeful but slightly uncertain of their best way forward.
Aside from the first pictures of Donald Trump inside the White House there was no disputing the week’s most terrifying image.
Eddie Jones does a good fireside yarn and he was on cracking form when looking forward to England’s opening game of this autumn’s series.
England are poised to restore Northampton’s Tom Wood to their back row against South Africa but have dropped Alex Goode and Semesa Rokoduguni from the squad to face the Springboks. The uncapped Nathan Hughes, Ben Te’o, Kyle Sinckler and Josh Beaumont have made the cut, with at least three set to be on the replacements’ bench at Twickenham on Saturday.
All 34 players who trained with England in the Algarve last week have regathered in Bagshot in preparation for Saturday’s opening Test of the Old Mutual Wealth Series. The fitness of Courtney Lawes to face South Africa remains uncertain but Eddie Jones has a range of other options to consider.
When Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22 it appears he had English rugby in mind.
Exactly nine years have elapsed since the Rugby World Cup final win of 2003 and Stuart Lancaster's latest team selection underlines just how far England have to go to replicate that feat.