Mako Vunipola The last image of England’s World Cup team will be that of a sulking, spoiled bunch of children

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Ripping off their medals. Standing arms crossed and scowling as the South Africans were presented with theirs.

Failing to bow in unison by way of courteous farewell to the Japanese people who had bestowed upon them the privilege of playing on such a magnificent stage.

Pointedly refusing to applaud the referee who they thereby had the brass neck to try to blame for a defeat which was nobody’s fault but their own.

England’s disappointment of losing the final is not an excuse for letting themselves down 

It is the last image which stays with us the longest and for millions of sports-lovers in this country the lingering memory of England at the Rugby World Cup is that of a sullen, sulking, spoiled bunch of over-grown children.

Bad losers doesn’t cover it. Petulance doesn’t come close. Disappointment is nowhere near an excuse for letting themselves down, letting us down, worst of all letting our nation down.

The rugby brotherhood, as is its wont, has spent the best part of a week trying to pass off this betrayal of grace with an airy wave of the hand and gushings of sympathy for their anguish at losing the biggest match of their lives.

Pass the sick bag. If this is the worst that ever happens to them they should count themselves very fortunate indeed.

Rugby used to be steeped in good sportsmanship, compassion in victory and, perhaps most importantly of all, generosity in defeat.

First and foremost, it was about playing the game. Followed by flagons of companionship downed by winners and losers together.

Jamie George, Mako Vunipola and captain Owen Farrell show their dismay after the defeat

That respect has given way to self-serving ego and now, apparently, to the kind of money which is blamed for football’s malaise.

Four of England’s so-called stars – captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers – are key beneficiaries of the salary-cap scandal which has brought rugby’s super-club Saracens crashing down beneath huge points deductions and fines.

The investigation into this case was led bySportsmailand it is disturbing that the findings of the official inquiry were delayed to prevent unsettling England’s World Cup campaign. How did that work out, gentlemen?

In light of this disgrace it is difficult not to suspect that much of the team’s brattishness was rooted in the loss of the £82,000 bonuses each stood to pocket had they become world champions.

That is no justification, either, for their surly behaviour. Nor for the grudging, back-handed congratulations to the South Africans which had to be dragged out of them by the post-match interviewers. You know how it went: ‘Well that’s the way choose to play but ok they did it well.’ New Zealand did not conduct themselves like that when England beat them in the semi-final.

Farrell smirked during the Hakka but beat

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