Not since 2007 has England reigned supreme in the Six Nations Championship. This tournament will start on 6 February.
So, what about England? Well, you can be certain of one thing. No matter what England does, good or bad and even indifferent, it always commands more talk, more opinion and more media attention than any other team. Why?
You either hate them, or love them, or well, you can show an interest. England is the home of rugby union, the nation where the game was born. Politically, England has always been the team that Scotland, Ireland and Wales wants to defeat. It goes back in history to all the battles, the troubles, the rivalry that has been carried out for over a thousand years.
Now most of the 'battles' are carried out on green rectangular 'fields'. The contestants are limited to 22 a-side (15 on the field at any one time) and the aim is to bury the rugby ball over the opponents line as many times as you can and more often than they. If you manage to bury a few of the opposition at the same time then well be it.
England gathered much publicity back in 2007 because a great team won the 6 Nations Championship, the Grand Slam (defeating all the opponents) that year and carried off, for the first time, The Webb Ellis Cup, the trophy up for grabs at the Rugby World Cup.
Since then there has been plenty of media for England, most of it bad. England has stutted and stumbled along, winning a few, losing many of the test matches for the 6 Nations title. A number of coaches have fallen on swords or been toppled as a result of this indifferent form.
The latest coach, Martin Johnson (who captained that great side of 2007), has had little effect on the fortunes of this team. At present they are in Portugal training and preparing for their first clash, against Wales, Saturday week.
Steve Borthwick has been named as captain. There is plenty of experience in this squad. A number of last year's players are still hopeful of a recall. Many are in the England Saxons ('A' team) squad that will begin its fixtures this weekend. However, as always, there is a lot of experienced players out with injuries.
PREDICTION: When England play well, they are a delight to watch. With much the same team and the same coaching outfit I can't really see much change. So, more of the same from England despite the grand efforts of the master himself, Jonny Wilkinson. I expect England will finish in the middle of the table.
Not even Jonny Wilkinson can save England some more embarrassment. Image thanks to http://www.rfu.com/
Delon Armitage (London Welsh) Age 25, 11 Tests
Steffon Armitage (London Irish) 24, 3
Christopher Ashton (Northampton Saints) 22, New cap
Matthew Banahan (Bath Rugby) 23, 5
Steven Borthwick, captain (Saracens) 29, 53
Danniel Care (Harlequins) 22, 14
Daniel Cole (Leicester Tigers) 22, New cap
Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers) 23, 3
Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks) 29, 34
Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers) 29, 11
Benjamin Foden (Northampton Saints) 24, 1
Tobias Flood (Leicester Tigers) 23, 26
Riki Flutey (London Welsh) 29, 9
Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby) 29, New cap
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 23, 14
James Haskell (London Wasps) 24, 22
Daniel Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers) 27, 12
Paul Hodgson (London Irish) 27, 6
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) 20, 1
Lee Mears (Bath Rugby) 30, 33
Ugo Monye (Harlequins) 26, 9
Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers) 31, 56
Matthew Mullan (Worcester Warriors) 22, New cap
Timothy Payne (London Wasps) 30, 15
Thomas Palmer (Stade Francais) 30, 13
Simon Shaw (London Wasps) 36, 53
Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks) 23, 32
Steven Thompson (CA Brive, France) 31, 46
Daniel Ward-Smith, (London Wasps) 31, New cap
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon, France) 30, 73, 1058 test points for England-World Record
David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) 24, 4
Benjamin Youngs (Leicester Tigers) 20, New cap
Head Coach: Martin Johnson
Matthew Mullan, prop (Worcester)
Daniel Cole, prop (Leicester Tigers)
Daniel Ward-Smith, (London Wasps)
Benjamin Youngs, scrum half (Leicester Tigers)
Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby)
Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
The injured list
Andrew Sheridan (prop)
Julian White (prop)
Joe Worsley (flanker)
Thomas Croft (flanker)
Harry Ellis (scrum half)
Nicholas Easter (Number 8)
Tomorrow I'll look at last years winner Ireland.