Martin Smith column on the fanfare of failure

England captain Chris Robshaw (right) and Tom Wood leave the field dejected after the Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 26, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Strictly no commercial use or association without RWCL permission. Still image use only. Use implies acceptance of Section 6 of RWC 2015 T&Cs at: http://bit.ly/1MPElTL Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further info.
England captain Chris Robshaw (right) and Tom Wood leave the field dejected after the Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 26, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Strictly no commercial use or association without RWCL permission. Still image use only. Use implies acceptance of Section 6 of RWC 2015 T&Cs at: http://bit.ly/1MPElTL Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further info.
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It all feels very familiar.

Posters, mugs and flags in the supermarkets, mums getting excited, dads getting the beers in. It can only mean one thing. Failure.

As soon as the nation gets involved it’s bound to go wrong. Some countries seem to rise to the collective dreams and demands of their citizens in moments of national sporting unity. Others don’t. It seems that English teams in the mass participation sports are cursed with a tendency to flop on the big occasion.

Saturday, Twickenham, Wales. We don’t need to go into detail, we all know what happened. Again.

The Aussie press famously called England ‘chokers’ before the 2003 World Cup Final and were made to swallow their own bitter words, but as a rule they were right.

Football always, rugby usually, cricket occasionally raises our hopes and sees them flutter away like so many flags of St George in the wind of another defeat.

Individually we do superbly - Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray, Kell Brook and all the brilliant rest.

It’s our teams that struggle to get over the line on the world’s biggest stages. But help may be on the way for the Johnsons, Browns, and Patels of England’s long-suffering families of armchair supporters.

By the time you read this column these eight sports will know if they are to be included in the 2020 Olympics - Baseball and softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu – better known as kung-fu.

A longer list of 26 possibles was reduced in June, when bridge, chess and snooker were among those to miss out. Perhaps that’s where it could all have changed for us. We tend to do better at the sitting down sports but we can’t manage many world champions even in those ‘events’.

What we definitely do better than most is tear ourselves apart in morning-after fits of self-loathing and embarrassment at our bloated patriotism of the night before.

We inevitably think that THIS time it’s going to be us, all the while knowing what tomorrow will feel like if it isn’t. And we still get hooked.

As a nation that binges on all things from food and alcohol to tattoos and TV trash we shouldn’t be surprised that we overdose on sporting optimism when the big ones come around. We’re constantly being taught sporting lessons in the games we gave to the world. But we never learn.

Perhaps it’s all part of our national ‘charm’ but aren’t we a bit sick of it now?