The Wallabies’ hopes of a breakthrough Rugby Championship win at Ellis Park have suffered a blow with a number of key players including Brumbies ace Christian Lealiifano sent home.
England coach Stuart Lancaster jumped before he was axed from his international role, but in the end he made the smart call.
There’s no doubt that Lancaster had to go. England had won nothing under him in the past four years and failed to get out of the poor stage of their own World Cup was the nail in the coffin.
The selection of Sam Burgess when he wasn’t ready, the persistence of Chris Robshaw at openside and as captain, the scatter-brain approach to selection, the failure to compete with the southern hemisphere all contributed to his downfall.
But the simple fact is Lancaster never should have been there.
He did do a decent job rebuilding the team culture after the failure under Martin Johnson at the 2011 World Cup. But if you look at his background, both as a coach and player, he was never up to one of the high-pressure jobs in world rugby.
Lancaster never played at the highest level and had won nothing as a coach, apart from a promotion challenge, before he took the England job.
His record in the Six Nations was second, second, second and second. If you can’t beat France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, how the hell do you hope to beat New Zealand, South Africa and Australia?
His record against the big three was three wins, one draw and 11 losses. Ouch.
Lancaster chopped and changed his team too much and persisted in an average leader in Robshaw as skipper.
He dropped Luther Burrell unfairly on the eve of the World Cup and failed to use the dynamic and talented Henry Slade. During the World Cup he went with two similar scrum halves, leaving the speedy and more attack-minded Danny Care out.
Lancaster’s team never really had a style of player it stuck to, never really decided on an identity. The former teacher didn’t seem to command respect in the way a Warren Gatland or a Michael Cheika does.
At the end of the day you are judged on results, and Lancaster’s results were poor.
The 46-year old resigned before he got sacked. A dignified and honest character, maybe he was just too ‘nice’ for the job.
Now comes the interesting part, who comes in to replace him. There is a dearth of successful, experienced local coaches.
England should look abroad for a Gatland, Cheika, Schmidt or Cotter. There were talks with Wayne Smith before, and he would be intriguing choice.
Another name that has popped up is 2007 World Cup winner Jake White. A polarising figure, sure, but one who gets results.
Either the South African or the Kiwi would be better choices than Lancaster, because they know what it takes and how to lead a team to silverware.
Follow John Davidson on Twitter @johnnyddavidson