England coach Stuart Lancaster and captain Chris Robshaw issued abject apologies after Australia dumped the host nation out of the World Cup with a comprehensive 33-13 victory on Saturday.
Lancaster acknowledged that his future is now uncertain after England became the first host nation to fail to get out of the World Cup qualifying round.
“I am gutted as we let the country down,” said Robshaw.
“As you can imagine the changing room is a very quiet place. We feel we let the country down today.
“As players we didn’t quite get there. We apologise to them. Australia played very well – but we’re gutted.
“Credit to Australia, we knew across the board that they would put us under pressure and they were good today.”
Lancaster and Robshaw had banked on the team bouncing back from a 28-25 defeat by Wales seven days earlier. But they were put to the sword by Bernard Foley’s 28 points for Australia.
Australia and Wales are now guaranteed the qualifying spots from Pool A into the quarter-finals.
England’s humiliation was completed when 10 minutes from the end Owen Farrell was sent to the sin bin for a reckless tackle.
“The yellow card for Owen Farrell was tough, we started to build a little momentum but left ourselves a little too much to do. We felt we built up some pressure but credit to their defence,” Robshaw told ITV.
Lancaster, who was awarded a new contract last year taking him up to 2020, also apologised.
“We’re gutted. And gutted for all the fans and everyone at home. Everyone put so much effort in but we’re sorry we let everyone down,” said Lancaster, who replaced Martin Johnson after England’s terrible 2011 World Cup in New Zealand when they went out in the quarter-finals.
“The first half we went in 17-3 behind and I felt that was a tough scoreline. We got back into the game but in the last five to 10 minutes, after the yellow card, Australia dominated and deserved to win.
“We came up short last week against Wales and this week – that’s the bottom line,” said the coach.
“But there are some good players in this squad and I hope the nation stays behind them.”
Asked about his own future, Lancaster replied: “Will I be staying behind them as their coach? It’s not for me to say. I’ve just got to get them ready for next week.”