Jake White would have been more concerned than Welsh coach Mike Ruddock at the 47-13 mauling of the Dragons at Twickenham. White plays the English twice this year and the 2003 World Cup hangover has finally been shaken off.
There were signs against Australia and New Zealand that England coach Andy Robinson was starting to find his feet and assemble an England pack around which a World Cup defence can be based. Those signs were even clearer on Saturday as England dismantled a Welsh team that crumbled in the last 20 minutes.
South Africa gave England a miss last year, but it may have been their best chance of breaking a Twickenham losing streak that dates back to 2000 when Harry Viljoen’s side lost 25-17. Since then the Boks have lost in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The last three results have been diabolical with scores of 29-9, 53-3 and 32-16 underlining England’s dominance.
The Boks play the Poms in the pool stages of the 2007 World Cup and French conditions won’t be much different to that of Twickenham.
England were good on Saturday, much better than they have been for some time. They still need a fit Jonny Wilkinson back and a decent midfield pairing, but they have the players around 10, 12 and 13 to form a formidable side and pose an equally formidable challenge.
Jake White’s season on Saturday only got harder. France, in Paris, was tough in 2005. Twickenham, will be even tougher.