The Dragons, or Bernard Jackman's Dragons to give them their full title, found no warmth in the South African sunshine yesterday. They were hammered 45-13 by the Southern Kings, in which they conceded six tries against a side themselves smarting from leaking 64 points against Leinster the week previous.
The result marks a nadir for Jackman amid a wretched run, following successive home defeats to Edinburgh and Benneton. They haven't won a game in the Pro14 since September.
After the defeat in Port Elizabeth, Jackman admitted that his Dragons squad is "broken", although stressed the fact that his is a long-term project.
Maybe it's better people realise how bad we are.
For some reason some people in the region and in the club think that we took over the Scarlets or Leinster, but we have been pretty poor for the last couple of years.
When I recruited people they didn't think that we were good. They knew that we were poor. That's why I had to convince them to come.
The worst thing that could happen was to have a couple of decent wins that stops us from making the hard decisions that need to be made if we want to be successful.
I've seen it happen with Pat Lam and Connacht, Gregor Townsend and Glasgow. Sometimes you have to realise how broken something is before you can fix it properly.
In September I knew that we needed to recruit. I saw it in pre-season and you always hope that there will be surprises, and there have been a couple, but realistically we just need to rebuild everything.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season won't affect next year because we have made decisions about what we need to do.
The Kings game was embarrassing and we deserve to get criticised. Now we need to make the hard decisions to change, or else it's always going to happen.
The lowest and most dejected thing in fortune has no fear, etc.
Jackman has talked openly of plans for the future, with the Dragons taken over by the Welsh Rugby Union last summer. The club have also secured the marquee signing of Wales and Lions backrow Ross Moriarty along with hooker Richard Hibbard, and Jackman retains a hope in signing George North when he returns to Wales next season.
In spite of this, the Welsh press and fans have begun to turn up the heat on Jackman, and ask if he is the right man for the job.
Here's Andy Howell, of Wales Online.
Forget all the talk, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and the Dragons just haven’t come up with the required results under him.
Yes, they’ve had numerous injury problems but some of Jackman’s team selections have raised eye-brows, there’s been too many changes in key positions while their game-plan has been difficult to fathom out....
...Jackman certainly talks the talk and is a charismatic figure but can he walk the walk? Is he the right man to take the Dragons forward?
He reminds me of Steve Hansen when the Kiwi was in charge of Wales between 2002-04 and talked down the Welsh players so much they started to believe him and performed accordingly...
Jackman’s tenure at French Top 14 club Grenoble ended following a player revolt over the desserts on the menu at team meals and you expect there to be some discord in the Dragons changing room among players who know they’re on the way out of the exit door come the end of season.
So what should the WRU do with Jackman? Stick or twist?
I’d still be inclined to give the ex-Leinster and Connacht front-rower the benefit of the doubt and keep him in situ.
However, he will have a significantly stronger squad under his command next season and results have to improve. There can’t be any more excuses, Jackman has to produce.
He has faced other criticism, too: the decision to play Zane Kirchner in the defeat to Benneton ahead of regular fly-halves and recognised goal kickers has been widely chastised by the Welsh press.
Fans and journalists online have started asking questions, too.
You wonder whether Bernard Jackman has lost this Dragons dressing room. Shocking results this season for the region.
— Delme Parfitt (@delmeparfitt) March 2, 2018
I just wonder at what point will @dragonsrugby fans start to question whether Bernard Jackman is the right man to take us forward? Will it start tonight?
I reckon if we had Richard Cockerill as coach we'd have won more games. Look what he's done at Edinburgh.....
— Jamie Phillips (@JNPhillips4) March 2, 2018
Just seen the result @bernardjackman needs to look inward honeymoon period over.
— John Pope (@JohnPopeuk) March 3, 2018
Some serious questions probably now have to be asked... pic.twitter.com/9Zb5veCCOr
— Sean Holley 🎤📺🏉📝🎥🏌🏻♂️ (@_SeanHolley) March 3, 2018
Struggling to see what Bernard Jackman is achieving at the Dragons? Surely one of the worst seasons they have had? Why would these top player want to sign there?
— Dale Hopkins (@hopkins_dale) March 3, 2018
Jackman will back himself to turn things around next season, but it looks like he will need to show some signs of progress before this year is out.