It was another bleak day at Twickenham, where England did everything they could to make life difficult for themselves against the All Blacks and were lucky not to lose by more.
Indiscipline cost the Home side as four players were sin binned, and New Zealand barely needed to change out of second gear to complete an impressive Grand Slam tour at the end of a long season. This was surely a symptom of the lack of leadership that we have debated at length on these pages, and there must be some changes before the Six Nations.
The All Blacks were actually quite poor with numerous errors and five missed kicks by Dan Carter, and if they’d been playing at their most effective, it would have been a lot worse. South Africa’s record of the largest winning margin at Twickenham probably should have lasted only a week.
On a positive note, Nick Kennedy stood out for England, disrupting the opposition lineout and winning high quality possession to leave people wondering why he was dropped two weeks ago. James Haskell was as busy as ever and full of heart, and Delon Armitage was comfortable at the back under a fair amount of pressure.
Other than that…not a great deal to be excited about. The Southern Hemisphere teams have proven they are a long way ahead of England, and instead of being excited about the Six Nations and the Lions Tour, I’m now slightly dreading them both.
No doubt optimism will return though as a slight change to the coaching setup or the unearthing of a promising new player leaves us all heralding the dawn of another new era before being ultimately disappointed.
Are there any other reasons to be cheerful on this cold December morning?