An English golden age could be wrecked on Saturday by rivals in golden shirts. Four years of relative prosperity would end if Eddie Jones' team lose to Australia in Oita.
Those are the sky-high stakes, as England are well aware. They are expected to beat the Wallabies for a seventh time in succession and progress to the last four.
If they fall at the quarter-final it would be considered a failure. Defeat is unthinkable.
England coach Eddie Jones' era is on the line as they take on Australia in the quarter-final
If England fall at the quarter-final stage it would be considered a failure. Defeat is unthinkable.
Owen Farrell and his team-mates have gone from a bye week to a do-or-die week. After their final pool game against France was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis, England had an extended build-up to this match.
It has allowed them more time to come to terms with the scenario they face.
In Test rugby, World Cups have become the be-all and end-all. Coaching regimes stand or fall based on the outcome of these showpiece campaigns, no matter what has gone before.
Jones knows this, which is why he has for so long had one priority event in the diary: November 2, 2019 and the World Cup Final at Yokohama Stadium.
Since the Australian took charge of England, there have been several peaks. The immediate salvage operation yielded a world record-equalling run of 17 Test victories, encompassing a first Grand Slam for 13 years and a 3-0 series whitewash of the Wallabies in June 2016.
There was another Six Nations title the following year.
These were fine achievements in their own right but are invariably viewed as precursors to the main event. This event.
England have bested Australia six times in a row since their last defeat at Twickenham in 2015
In the best part of four years, under Jones, England have won 37 of the 47 Tests they have played, but it all comes down to this.
So many players have come and gone, there have been coaching changes, backroom staff changes, a captaincy change and tactical changes. The England team has evolved and, apart from the barren spell of five defeats in a row last year, there has been regular success. Vast sums have been spent in the pursuit of ultimate glory. Now it all comes down to this.
The RFU invested in Jones as a veteran coach with the credentials to end a cycle of World Cup misery.
England lost in the quarter-finals in 2011 and Martin Johnson was removed from his post. They went out after the pool stage four years ago and Stuart Lancaster was duly ousted. The world's richest union - despite recent financial troubles - won't want to be plunged into inquest mode again.
That is not what the RFU will be anticipating. England go into Saturday's showdown widely tipped to win. But Jones cannot deliver sporting certainty.
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