Eddie Jones admits his future lies in the hands of Twickenham but the head coach remains convinced he is the right man to lead England to the next World Cup.
A fifth place finish sealed by Saturday’s 32-18 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium completed a dismal Guinness Six Nations that has placed Jones’ reign under intense scrutiny.
The Rugby Football Union’s customary post-Championship review will begin in the coming days with no timeframe set for its completion.
The PA news agency understands that Jones will be assessed on his historical achievements as well as the outcome of the tournament, with his success in plotting a route out of a similar slump in 2018 strengthening his position.
“Our coaching team and leadership team will review our performance in the Six Nations and we know the England team will continue to grow and learn from this,” a Rugby Football Union spokesperson said.
Senior players Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola and Jonny May have given the Australian emphatic endorsements, insisting it is the players who must be held accountable for the reverse Triple Crown of losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
When asked if he is the right man to take England forward, Jones replied “that’s for other people to answer, not for me to answer”, but added that he is “100 per cent” confident he can perform the role and that the Six Nations outcome had not made him question himself.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m sure they’re angry. We expect to win and we expect to play better than we did,” said Jones in addressing the frustration of supporters.
“No one is more disappointed than the team and ourselves with what happened and the fans have got the right to be disappointed. We’re gutted by it.”
England entered the Six Nations as champions after compiling an eight-Test winning run which also secured the Autumn Nations Cup, but cracks were already evident as performances failed to match results.
“Unfortunately I thought we were due for a period like this. Every team goes through it,” Jones said.
“International rugby, particularly at Six Nations level, you get to a certain stage and the success makes you a bit weak. You need to fight through that.
“It’s hard to be at the top of the tree all the time. And so the team goes through cycles of success and cycles of failure and I think that’s a normal part of sport.
“I knew that a tough period was coming, because we’ve had a good run, we’ve won games we probably shouldn’t have won
“And you get on the other side of the ledger where you lose games that you should have won and it becomes tough. We’re in that period now.”
May is one of several squad members to vigorously back Jones and the Gloucester wing admits Saturday’s subdued outing in Dublin will leave lasting scars.
“As players we’ll put our hands up because we go into games well prepared, with a good gameplan, good understanding,” May said.
“Tactically, physically, mentally we’re prepared extremely well. We have the best players, staff resources, players I feel. This one is on the players, so we need to sort it.
“There are moments in games that take a bit of your soul almost. And they sit with you. This campaign has been as tough as it comes.
“I pretty much have felt sick for the whole lot of it because it’s been tough. That’s a positive because I care and the team cares. It means a lot to us.
“The regret is that we couldn’t make the people at home who watch us and expect us to win, happy. And I’m sorry about that.”