The 2015 Rugby World Cup promised spoils and splendour for England, but the Red Rose wilted in their efforts to win the tournament on home soil and were ousted after only four games.
Their fate was sealed after succumbing 33-13 to Australia in a must-win match on October 3 that year, having already slipped to a 28-25 defeat against Wales one week earlier.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster took his leave of the job shortly after England’s first pool-stage exit at a World Cup, but he’s not the only figure to have departed in the preceding six years.
Some have survived the international cull and remain part of Eddie Jones’ current set-up, while others have taken their careers to the United States, coffee-roasting and even joined the opposition. . .
Full-back: Mike Brown
Chris Lishman/MI News/NurPhoto)
Full-back Mike Brown looked helpless at times attempting to plug the gaps behind England’s back line during that defeat to Australia, but he remained England’s go-to option at 15 for several years after the result.
The hot-headed 72-cap veteran ended his 16-year Harlequins career earlier in 2021 after joining Newcastle Falcons, signing off his time at The Stoop with a second Premiership title and a bar named in his honour.
Wing: Anthony Watson
Scorer of England’s only try during that rout against the Wallabies, Anthony Watson remains one of England’s most reliable wing options and played two Tests against South Africa on this year’s British and Irish Lions tour.
The Bath speed merchant also travelled to New Zealand for the drawn Lions series in 2017 and became a father last year after partner Alyse gave birth to their son, Kai.
Do you think England can go one better to win the Rugby World Cup in 2023? Let us know in the comments section.
Centre: Jonathan Joseph
Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
At 30 years of age, there’s a sense Jonathan Joseph may yet get another World Cup opportunity in France in 2023, with a commendable 17 tries from 54 appearances for his country.
The Bath utility played largely a cameo role for England en route to their runner-up finish behind South Africa at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, having also been joined club mate Watson on the 2017 Lions tour.
Centre: Brad Barritt
After calling time on his rugby career in 2020, former Saracens stalwart Brad Barritt swapped balls for beans and put more energy into a company he co-founded, Tiki Tonga Coffee.
The South Africa-born centre received the last of his 26 England caps in that decisive defeat to the Wallabies, having been deemed too one-dimensional by Lancaster’s successor, Jones.
Wing: Jonny May
Injury meant Gloucester’s Jonny May had to wait more than a year for another England cap following their 2015 World Cup exit, but he’s seldom been out of the team since and is closing in on Rory Underwood’s all-time try record.
Fly-half: Owen Farrell
One of the few constants from the Lancaster days who has largely remained so under Jones, Owen Farrell has been on two Lions tours, married partner Georgie and had two sons in the last four years alone.
He was also one of the Saracens front-bench stars who remained at the club last season following their relegation from the Premiership, hoping to add to his collection of five first-tier titles and three European crowns.
As if that wasn’t enough, Farrell was a beacon for England en route to Six Nations wins in 2016, 2017 and 2020, as well as being named European Rugby Player of the Year twice in a row (2017-18).
Scrum-half: Ben Youngs
Competition may come and go, but Ben Youngs remains a chief orchestrator for Leicester Tigers and England, with the 32-year-old scrum-half targeting his fourth Rugby World Cup appearance in 2023.
Youngs—who withdrew from the last two Lions tour for family reasons—needs only six more appearances to overtake Jason Leonard (114) as the most capped England player of all time.
No. 8: Ben Morgan
Another option discarded by Jones since his appointment, Ben Morgan continues to impress on a regular basis for Gloucester, but his future England prospects look dim at 32.
Opensideflanker: Chris Robshaw
Chris Robshaw was something of an unfortunate scapegoat for the 2015 Rugby World Cup humiliation, losing the team’s captaincy to Dylan Hartley shortly after Jones took over.
It’s a testament to the player that he was kept in the team for several more years, however, until a new generation led by the likes of Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje started to take hold.
Robshaw, 35, cut ties with Harlequins in 2020 after 15 years and 300 appearances for the club, joining Major League Rugby franchise San Diego Legion in the United States as a player-coach.
Blindside flanker: Tom Wood
Northampton Saints veteran Tom Wood fought hard to keep his place in England’s back row during Jones’ reign, but it was a battle he eventually lost in 2017 after bringing up a half-century of caps for his country.
Now 34 and ebbing towards retirement age, Wood suitably lists “woodworking, chainsaw, archery, rifle fishing, and welding” among his interests outside of rugby.
Lock: Geoff Parling
Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne)
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Almost five years to the day after losing to the Wallabies at Twickenham, former lock Geoff Parling was confirmed as the new forwards coach for Australia following Dave Rennie’s appointment in 2020.
Parling, 37, played two seasons for Exeter Chiefs after the 2015 World Cup, going on to represent Munakata Sanix Blues and Melbourne Rebels in Japan and Australia, respectively, before hanging up his boots in 2018.
Lock: Joe Launchbury
Almost a certain starter for club and country when fully fit, recurring injuries have continued to hamper Joe Launchbury’s career despite retaining the Wasps captaincy in recent years.
The former starlet may yet reconnect with Itoje or Courtney Lawes to form a dream England second-row partnership, having featured prominently for the team that won the Six Nations title in 2017.
Prop: Dan Cole
David Rogers/Getty Images)
Dan Cole managed one more World Cup cycle before retiring from international action following the runner-up finish in Japan, by which time the tighthead prop had lost his starting to Kyle Sinckler.
That came way after winning back-to-back Six Nations in 2016 and 2017, however—not to mention a Grand Slam in the former—and he’s now helping Leicester reclaim their place atop the Premiership pile.
Hooker: Tom Youngs
The elder Youngs brother started all four World Cup games in 2015 but has since been overlooked by Jones, earning the last of his 31 England caps in the romp over Uruguay that followed their loss to the Wallabies.
Tom Youngs held Leicester’s captaincy for several seasons before recently handing the honour to Ellis Genge, dedicating more of his time to campaigning on behalf of good causes, as well as being a keen agriculture enthusiast.
Prop: Joe Marler
Joe Marler was almost unanimously considered England’s top contender for England’s loosehead role in 2015, but he’s been more commonly called upon as cover in recent years.
That shouldn’t take away from his achievements off the international stage, however, having launched a successful podcast, released an autobiography and toured New Zealand as a Lion in the meantime.
To top that list of feats, Marler also started in June’s 40-38 win over Exeter Chiefs to be crowned a Premiership champion for the second time.