LONDON • Britain's unforgiving rugby media have launched into England rugby coach Eddie Jones, after his side suffered a fifth successive Test loss with a 23-12 series-losing defeat by South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Jones' side raced to a quick 12-0 lead before the Springboks got into the game and overran them for the second successive week, following a similar come-from-behind 42-39 victory in Johannesburg.
The defeat was the sixth overall for England, who also lost to the Barbarians before they left for South Africa, and prior to this season had been riding an unprecedented run of success and looking like a favourite for next year's World Cup in Japan.
England have not lost six Tests in a row since they went on a seven-match losing streak in 2006, though they made the World Cup final the following year, losing to South Africa in the decider.
"England... find themselves in a state of free fall, with questions mounting about how can they arrest it," Gavin Mairs wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
He also suggested that Jones' job security was now in question, particularly given their fixtures as they fine-tune their World Cup preparations.
The 58-year-old Australian was initially lauded when he took the job after England were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup at home in the pool phase and led them to 18 successive wins.
Three losses in the Six Nations this year, however, have seen the team slip to fourth in the world.
"Whatever magic dust Jones scattered earlier in his tenure has long since disappeared into the ether," Rob Kitson wrote in The Guardian.
The coach himself was at a loss to explain the poor run.
"We started the game very well, but it was a bit like a horror movie, wasn't it? It was almost a re-run of last week," he said post-match.
"An England side is always under pressure, whether you are winning or losing. Are the players feeling it more now? That is a possibility."
While the third and final Test in Cape Town on Saturday is now a dead rubber, it will give England a chance to end their miserable run of form.
Jones said: "This is a great learning experience for the team, even if it is painful, extremely painful. We need to get our pride back."