It’s time for Englishmen now abed to admit what too many of us have known for too long. Poms are not the most popular of people.
And when it comes to the current Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the Red Rose is giving off a distinctly dodgy aroma.
So far, Martin Johnson’s side have managed a narrow 13-9 win over Argentina and an unsatisfying 41-10 victory over Georgia. Next up: Romania. A win over the gypsy nation is hardly likely to lead to a burst of enthusiasm, especially with the forced eviction of travellers at Dale Farm hogging the headlines on Sky News.
Between those two unspectacular victories, Mr Zara Phillips – also known as veteran England centre Mike Tindall – managed to get a nightclub manager fired and arrested for posting a video of his wild night out with a full-breasted female Kiwi. And all this whilst his team-mates were attending a boozy dwarf-throwing contest.
Today, boss Johnson – the former World Cup-winning ogre with the joined eyebrows who has never coached a club side and exhibits few of the traits we associate with a national manager – is apparently launching a “charm offensive” to put right this awful injustice.
Lots of autograph signing, plenty of friendly media appearances, lots of sympathy for Christchurch earthquake victims. You know the sort of thing.
It ain’t gonna work. I mean, look at our history. Since the post-Roman era, the Anglo-Saxons have tended to colonise nations – just ask the local Maori historians in Wellington – rather than cuddle them. Often using weapons of mass destruction.
Before the invention of gunpowder, we used thousands of working class scruffs and quasi-religious fervour to crush the kilts out of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh. And as our proud nation developed, we chose concentration camps and machine guns to deal with the locals in South Africa, Kenya, India etc etc.
More recently, we have chosen Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to blood our Sandhurst graduates from the playing fields of Eton and Harrow.
Not the best way to win a popularity contest. Germany aren’t at this World Cup. But France are. And the Italians. Don’t even ask.
It doesn’t help that so many of the current England squad aren’t even subjects. Matt Stevens, the little South African prop with an historic dope problem, is back from his two-year cocaine suspension to add his curious aksent to the mix.
Then there’s Shontayne Edward Hape, the 30-year-old New Zealand rugby league international born in Auckland. He played 14 games for the Kiwis before deciding he was English.
Hooker Dylan Hartley, born in Rotorua 25 years ago, is in the squad, along with Leicester's Samoan-born centre Manu Tuilagi, famous for punching England team-mates. He scored two tries against the luckless Georgians.
Kiwi centre Riki Flutey, the former Maori captain, is on stand-by to fly out, as is Saracens lock Mouritz Botha, from Vryheid in South Africa. Like the world-beating England cricket team which features South African-born Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Prior, Jonathan Trott, Jade Dernbach, Craig Kieswetter and even captain Andrew Strauss, passports tend to be overlooked in the quest for glory.
And the latest call-up? That’s New Zealander Thomas Waldrom, 27, flying in as back-up for crocked No8 Nick Easter.
Waldrom, born in Lower Hutt and nicknamed “The Tank Engine” at Leicester, has an English grandmother. Even Pietersen managed an English mother.
With Waldrom, Hape and Hartley wearing the Red Rose rather than the Silver Fern, New Zealanders may be excused for wondering what’s going on. England boasts a world-beating 166,672 registered senior players while New Zealand have just 27,374 to choose from according to the latest International Rugby Board figures.
So the least popular side at this World Cup were greeted by about 100 hardy fans at Auckland Airport at the start of the tournament. No great fanfare for the all-whites who have chosen to wear a locally-reviled all-black away strip at this World Cup.
A poll of fans in New Zealand will simply confirm what Limeys, Rooineks and Poms have always known: We are the least popular nation at this odd-shaped-ball fest.
England, once described as the “great white orcs” in the nation which gave birth to the Lord of the Rings movies, are pure evil.
Which isn’t to say they might just raise the Union Jack over this World Cup with a bit more stiff upper lip. Just wish they could do it with a little more panache.