Losing the World Cup final is really going to hurt for the England rugby team – a hurt that will last a long time.
England were tactically outclassed on Saturday when the Springboks manipulated the game into a physical battle they would always dominate.
England were bullied in the scrum and failed to break through the ‘Green Wall’ in open play.
They persisted with their plan, hoping it would lead to a different outcome. It didn’t.
Straight after the game it looked as though the England lads had taken defeat in their stride.
Captain Owen Farrell corralled his troops and had them circle for a post-match speech.
I imagine it was similar to the ones I heard, nothing very insightful or tactically analytical, instead usually something generic with a nod to the future.
“We weren’t good enough today, but remember this feeling, because we will be back,” or something like that.
Some of the team seemed to take solace from this.
But a bit later the speaker system in the Yokohama International Stadium began to pump out the hymn ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’ on repeat – almost as if the PA announcer had it ready for an England victory.
As the line for the runners-up medals began to form, the masks of determination and emotional stability began to slip and it started to dawn on them what defeat meant.
In sport, our entire careers are often broken down to a single TV strapline like ‘Sam Quek – Olympic gold medallist’.
But that doesn’t tell you about the blood, sweat and tears expended during a gruelling 12-year career.
It doesn’t tell you about the other tournaments.
You are defined by your results on the biggest stage you perform on – regardless of whether that summary is fair.
These England players will now be called ‘World Cup finalist’ or ‘World Cup runner-up’ and every time they will be reminded of what could have been.
The only way to eradicate that tag is to win their next tournament.
That is my experience, because no amount of tea and sympathy ever soothed my soul.
Sam Quek is an ambassador for footie5, a weekly free-to-play football prediction game where you can win £25,000 just by predicting the scores of five matches of your choice from across the English and Scottish leagues. Download the app or play at www.footie5.com