For decades England have flown back from summer tours to the southern hemisphere cursing the entirely predictable outcome. Not this time, not this team. For the first time in rugby union history a group of English players have won a major series down under and a permanent place in red-rose folklore now awaits every single member of Eddie Jones’s squad.
In this instance the Wallabies were scuppered by an heroic English defensive effort, with the post-match counts crediting the visitors with making over 200 tackles, three times as many as their opponents. Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, the Vunipola brothers, Dan Cole and the captain, Dylan Hartley, were almost insanely committed, with Maro Itoje once again underlining his status as a world-class talent in the making.
Behind the scrum Owen Farrell and George Ford were also central to the plot once more, with the rock-solid Farrell also adding a 74th-minute try to his growing stack of successful kicks. No previous June tour by England has ever yielded a series victory over Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, while Jones’s side will also now rise to second place in the World Rugby rankings with only the world champions New Zealand ahead of them.
For someone like Robshaw, who was winning his 50th cap, the final whistle must have felt particularly surreal. Before this series his last glimpse of Wallaby gold was at Twickenham last October when the Wallabies trounced England to knock the hosts out of their own World Cup. As he and his team-mates performed a weary lap of honour around the stadium, an eighth straight victory under Jones safely in the bag along with a Six Nations grand slam, it was hard to imagine a more fitting choice as man of the match.