The old order was blown apart under the thunder and lighting. England, one of the traditional heavyweights of the sport, suffered their first ever defeat to Fiji in a game that rocked the world of rugby.
History was made. England were humiliated. They have become a laughing stock, travelling to the World Cup as the butt of the jokes. This was supposed to be their farewell party but most English fans will be thinking “goodbye and good riddance” as their team head to France for a few weeks.
‘Fiji! Fiji! Fiji! chanted the north-east corner, waving their soaked flags in delight and disbelief. The kings of chaos reigned supreme, but what about England? They have reached their lowest ebb. This is the worst England team we have seen for years. Every drop of joy has been squeezed out of their game. It was like watching men against robots and humanity won.
There are quality players in this England team but they are stinking the place out. The game plan is bust. The coaches must be held to account. It is made up entirely of the group that worked together at Leicester and there is no diversity of thought. The attack looks like something from the stone age and the defence is non-existent. At times, Fiji looked like they were running at crash-test dummies.
Argentina will be licking their lips for the opening game of the World Cup. Even allowing for the ludicrously lop-sided World Cup draw, they look like a team with no hope and no direction.
Fiji earned a first ever win against England with a 30-22 victory at Twickenham on Saturday
Three second half tries helped Fiji to a historic triumph ahead of the World Cup
A late Simione Kuruvoli score sealed the result for the visitors
Any of England’s early cohesion was washed up by the rain. They started the game by launching Ollie Lawrence and Manu Tuilagi but, as usual, it ended with the ball being turned over.
George Ford found his range with an early three pointer and in the 10th minute, more than six hours since a back last scored a try, Jonny May went over down the left wing. Ford and Freddie Steward drifted to the left of a scrum to create an overlap and May wasted no time on his comeback to end the drought.
If there was a picture that sums up for far English rugby has fallen, it was the image of the entire upper tier being closed for England’s farewell party. The fans are voting with their feet. There were more than 80,000 supporters for Friday’s humdinger between the All Blacks and South Africa but here were just 56,000. Eight England players had thousands of seats to themselves, watching from above as England were caught in the eye of the storm.
They kicked and kicked, spilling balls as they struggled to throw a blanket over the kings of chaos. Theo Dan misjudged a couple of lineouts and Caleb Muntz pulled back three points after England drifted offside.
There were warning signs from Fiji. Semi Radradra bounced off defenders and England breathed a sigh of relief when Waisea Nayacalevu’s try was ruled out for a forward pass.
‘That’s terribly dangerous,’ protested one of the England players after Ellis Genge was chopped down in the tackle but England struggled to capitalise on the penalty count. Prop Eroni Mawi was sin-binned for collapsing a maul but eve with a man advantage England failed to execute in the 22.
Despite leading at half-time, England collapsed after the interval in front of just 56,000 fans at Twickenham
With Mawi still in the bin, Fiji took the lead. Freddie Steward fumbled a kick and then sliced the ball into touch. Fiji were gifted easy territory and they took advantage. Attacking from a standing start, Radradra through an audacious pass into the space out wide, allowing Selestino Ravutaumada to step Jonny May and leave him for dust. Waisea Nayacalevu cut a line off his shoulder to snartch the lead.
England got back int the Fijian 22 but were again repelled, with Ford’s grubber kick charged down.
And with 53 minutes on the clock, the Islanders struck again. With Ben Earl stood like a statue at the sid of the ruck, Vinaya Habosi picked up the ball and made a dash for it. No one could catch him and suddenly England were 11 points down.
Marcus Smith came on at full-back and seconds later he was watching Muntz kick the visitors further ahead after May’s fumble was doubled down by a breakdown penalty.
Smith collected chip kick by Ford to score, but even with a stroke of luck after appearing to be offside England could not take advantage.
Steve Borthwick’s England were beaten on the farewell ahead of the World Cup in France
Alex Mitchell was penalised for a high tackle and Fiji banked another three.
Ben Earl knocked on a Crossfield kick but Joe Marchant scored out wide to narrow the deficit. It was time for England’s senior players to take ownership but they went missing.
Danny Care dropped the most basic of balls, before England missed touch with a clearance kick.Fiji charged back. They threw a long pass to Ravutaumada who was held just short, but his offload found Simione Kuruvoli who scored the winning try.
Fiji were in dreamland, England were in the darkest depths of a nightmare.