England captain Phil Vickery insists coach Brian Ashton's impact during the World Cup campaign was "huge".
Ashton took over from Andy Robinson as England coach
Ashton's side lost 15-6 to South Africa in Saturday's final after a stunning turnaround in form from the pool stages when they lost 36-0 to the Springboks.
"The whole thing has been a huge team effort," said Vickery. "We can hold our hands up and admit we - coaches and players - have made mistakes at times.
"But ultimately Brian's influence on the side has been huge."
Former England international Paul Ackford, in his Sunday Telegraph column, suggested there was unrest in the England camp early in the tournament.
There is a massive amount of young talent around and I think English rugby has a pretty exciting future
And during the much-publicised "clear-the-air" meetings after the South Africa humilation in September, Ackford says Ashton was told by a senior player to "pull his finger out and put some work in".
But Vickery added: "He certainly made me very happy to go out and wear that England shirt and credit to him and the coaching team for that.
"It is just disappointing to get so far and so close and not be able to pick up the trophy. It is a stab in the heart. It bloody hurts.
"I wanted to be remembered as a double World Cup-winning player, but it wasn't to be. I am proud of the players, proud of everyone."
Ashton took over from Andy Robinson last December on a rolling one-year contract, with England on a run of eight losses in nine games. But he guided the team to the final despite another up-and-down year.
Asked if he wanted to stay on in the post, Ashton told 5live's Sportsweek: "We'll see but I love doing the job.
"On reflection, I'd rather stay than not but it's probably not my decision."
Ashton, who gathered his players and coaches around him on the Stade de France pitch after the final whistle, added: "No-one around the world gave them a cat in hell's chance of even competing with South Africa after what happened five weeks ago.
"I said to them 'look, we've lost the game, we've lost our hold on the world trophy, and that is bitterly, bitterly disappointing to all of us'.
"But no-one could fault them for their attitude, the way that they played.
"We pushed South Africa right to the wire and were right in the game until the final minute."
I think we've got the coaching staff and all the expertise that's required to make a world-class team
And asked if the better team had won, Ashton said: "The better team always wins."
The RFU's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew was unwilling to discuss Ashton's future at a final news conference in Paris on Sunday, but he said he would pick over the whole World Cup campaign during November.
"It has been a phenomenal effort to get to where we did and we should all be proud of what they have done," said Andrew.
"We will review the World Cup in the next few weeks and look to move forward but now is not the time to go into any great detail about where we go next."
Ashton added: "I intend to sit back for a week and reflect on what has happened but I know there is a massive amount of young talent around and I think English rugby has a pretty exciting future."
Sir Clive Woodward, who led England to World Cup victory in 2003, backed Ashton to remain in charge but was less glowing in his praise of Andrew.
"I'm still not quite sure what Rob's role is to be honest," said Woodward. "Brian Ashton, definitely. He's done a remarkably good job.
"I think we'll find out in the coming weeks exactly what's gone on behind the scenes.
"I think what Brian will know, and why he'll be keen to keep the job, is that the team that goes into the Six Nations will be completely different from last night.
"There is a very, very high quality of young players available for England now, not just the ones that you saw last night."
And Woodward believes the club versus country row that has disrupted the national team's preparations in recent years must be resolved quickly so that the focus can quickly turn to the next World Cup in 2011.
"Hopefully there will be a proper agreement between the RFU and the clubs and it will give the coach a fighting chance," said Woodward.
"That is what hasn't been there the last four years.
"The goal now should be to arrive in New Zealand in four years' time as the number one team in the world and favourites to win it.
"I think we've got the coaching staff and all the expertise that's required to make a world-class team."