For three successive tournaments England have been touted as potential World Cup winners without ever living up to the hype.
They have fallen foul of each of the southern hemisphere giants.
The boot of South Africa's Jannie de Beer accounted for them in 1999, and Jonah Lomu did the damage in 1995.
But the most painful defeat came on home soil in the final in 1991 when they were denied by Australia 12-6.
WORLD CUP RECORD
Played 21 - W:13 L:8
Having lost to New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament at Twickenham, England faced the toughest of routes if they were to return to HQ for the last match.
But return they did following hard-earned wins over France in Paris and Scotland in Edinburgh in the semi-finals.
However, having put in the hard yards to reach the final, Will Carling and his team tore up the tactics sheet and chose to throw the ball around.
It was an error both he and the England side would live to regret as prop Tony Daly went over for the only try of the match while Michael Lynagh's conversion and two penalties were enough to give the Wallabies a 12-6 win.
Despite the defeat, it was an astounding improvement on 1987, when after losing to Australia in the pool stages, they were bundled out of the tournament by Wales in the quarter-finals without posting a try in either match.
Following their 1991 run to the final, in South Africa four years later, it became evident that Carling's team would again have to do it the hard way if they were to reach the final.
First up after the pool stage were Australia in a titanic match, which went to the wire with Rob Andrew's vital last-minute drop goal sinking the Wallabies.
But at the very next stage, New Zealand, and Jonah Lomu in particular, lay in wait and the celebratory mood of the week before fell flat.
The quarter-final win over Australia remains England's only World Cup win over a major southern hemisphere team.
In 1999 they lost to the All Blacks for the third tournament in row in the pool stages which set up a quarter-final against South Africa.
It produced one of the most outstanding individual performances in a World Cup match - unfortunately for England it came from the boot of
fly-half Jannie de Beer.
De Beer put to one side his reputation of being one of the nicest men in rugby for 80 minutes with a ruthless display which saw him kick 34 points, including a world record five drop-goals.
Only two tries were scored as a glut of penalties from De Beer and England's Paul Grayson dominated the scoring.
The match ended 44-21 and England were left to rue the amount of space given to the Springboks' kicking king.