It was the big call from Stuart Lancaster heading into a World Cup where so much was expected. They may have been drawn in the group of death but everyone was still charting an Ireland vs England semi-final and quite possibly an England vs New Zealand final.
As things stand, that's looking quite unlikely and Gordon D'Arcy is putting a lot of that down to the England's coaches big decision to select rugby league convert Sam Burgess as one of his centres. The Leinster man's Irish Times column is becoming required reading every week and he's once again taken a look at the subject closest to his heart, effective and efficient centre play.
Last week it was South Africa's Jesse Kriel who was up on the chopping block and now D'Arcy has cast his eye over Burgess' performance against Wales and it doesn't make for pleasant reading if you're an England fan.
Burgess lacks the sense of timing, in attack and defence, required to be effective at international level. His naivety embarrassed those around him and severely damaged England’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
D'Arcy's point is that is takes an immense amount of time an effort to become an effective centre at the highest level. He even brings up the case of Sonny Bill Williams who many would hail as the most naturally gifted centre out there. While that may be the case, D'Arcy points to the fact that Williams worked alongside Tana Umaga for two years before his All Blacks debut. With that in mind it certainly does seem incredible to expect Burgess to be up to speed having only crossed over to union last October.
When Lancaster made the decision to bring the Bath man and then start him against Wales, it was a big risk and, according to D'Arcy that risk has blown up in England's face. While Brad Barritt may have been at fault for Wales' killer try on Saturday, it was more telling that Burgess wasn't even on the field of play at that point.
By then the Burgess experiment had been abandoned because the England coaching team accepted, long after everyone else, that he had no idea what was happening around him.
With Jonathan Joseph set to return, it's looking very unlikely that Burgess will retain his place against Australia on Saturday night. But with that defeat against the Welsh hitting the English so hard, it seems the damage may already have been done.