Despite winning just two of their five fixtures, voices at the top of the RFU claim England are on the path of progress as the 2023 World Cup looms. However, many big names in the game are not convinced.
England opened their campaign with a 20-17 loss to a fiery Scottish outfit before making short work of the Italians a week later. A gritty affair at Twickenham saw them take a 4-point win against the Welsh in Round 3. Rounds 4 & 5 were dark ones for Eddie Jones and his charges as they fell to Ireland (32-15) and France (25-13) respectively.
Speaking on the Rugby Union Daily Podcast, former England international Ugo Monye did not pull any punches.
"I want to know who in the RFU thinks that signifies progress and are happy with how things are," he said.
"Fundamentally it's just dishonest. There isn't progress."
In the wake of the loss to France, an anonymous RFU spokesperson said that Jones "is building a new England team against a clear strategy" and stressed that the 62 year-old has the full support of the RFU.
Monye’s sentiments were echoed by former British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton.
"The RFU are trying to get the press off Eddie Jones' back,” he said.
"It's not honest. No-one apart from Italy will see two wins as progress. This is definitely not progress for England.
"With the financial backing, the player pool and the coaching staff they have you cannot be winning two out of five games two years in a row. It's appalling, unimaginable, unacceptable.
"England talk about showing great spirit and fight against Ireland and France but you expect that as a baseline. They were miles behind where France were."
Jones has repeatedly said that England’s losses are valuable learning curves for his young players ahead of the World Cup, however, Warburton highlighted the notion that, by pouring all focus on the World Cup, Jones was showing disrespect to the Six Nations tournament.
"It's not about the World Cup right now, it's about the Six Nations," he said on BBC Two's Rugby Union Special.
"It's an amazing tournament and it's disrespectful to say 'we're building to the World Cup next year'. It's about winning the Six Nations at all costs. I don't like this 'buying time' talk.
"The World Cup semi-final win against New Zealand in 2019 was probably the best performance England have ever produced but I don't know how they are so far away from that now.
"They should be physically dominating teams and be strong in the set-piece. They have amazing players like Marcus Smith and Harry Randall and should be a brilliant team, but I don't know why they have regressed so far.
"They are way behind where they were for the 2019 World Cup."