Brian Dick says reality has to be faced as England prepare for the defence of their World Cup crown.

This has been the most strange of starts to the new rugby season; not only have I witnessed first hand Moseley winning away from home, I also find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with Lawrence Dallaglio.

The England forward is not a man with whom I have any particular axe to grind, Josh Lewsey's the Wasp I would most like to swat after asking a friend's son why he should sign the lad's Gloucester shirt when he was approached for an autograph - nice touch.

Nevertheless, I have to admit some distaste as to the way Dallaglio talked his way back into the national set-up after supposedly retiring from international rugby. It smacked of self-importance and, at the time, seriously the undermined the captaincy of Martin Corry.

Yet Dallaglio's assertion, made on Monday night, that in the wake of England's World Cup victory they spent too much time slapping backs and not enough planning how they were going to win the next one, holds more than a little water.

To quote him directly, Dallaglio said: "The planning process for this World Cup has only just started, really. It should have started the day after the last one. For two or three years after the World Cup, we were still basking in the success of 2003." Amen.

The whole Sweet Chariot tour, during which the Webb Ellis Cup was endlessly hawked around the country like some liberated artefact, oozed complacency and lasted far too long.

More than a year after the trophy had been won, the Rugby Football Union were still parading the thing in every far-flung outpost, no doubt at considerable financial expense, as though a 13-inch tin pot was evidence they'd been right after all.

What they didn't do was draw up a blueprint to defend the title. The processes Clive Woodward had fought with every sinew for six years to introduce and the resolve of hardened veterans like Martin Johnson and Neil Back was wasted.

Woodward became exasperated when the conversations he'd had with Premiership clubs about player release needed to be had again and, completely understandably, he stomped off mouthing something about his job being done.

In the meantime, while the rest of the world turned every stone in the search for ways to catch up, England plodded along, ploughing the same furrow despite the fact that most of the old sods had gone.

Andy Robinson's appointment as coach in Woodward's wake was a thoughtless, visionless and ultimately fruitless exercise that has left Brian Ashton with no chance of reclaiming the championship.

What I don't understand is why Dallaglio's observations have caused such controversy. Who can honestly argue what he says is not true? Doing so would be to suggest the RFU have planned brilliantly and given Ashton the very best chance of retaining the crown.

Given that's clearly not the case, we must assume umbrage has been taken about the context of his comments.

Few can argue Dallaglio is well placed to form his opinion as he has been in, out and then back in the Red Rose set-up and in many ways he is uniquely qualified to say such things.

I suspect the real problem is the timing. England begin their campaign in four days' time and here is one of their elder statesmen rocking the boat.

That's unfair. What he was doing was responding to a question. On the whole, the interview was positive and reiterated his commitment to the cause.

Would supporters rather he dodged such issues and came out with the well-observed party-line that became so irritating during Robinson's latter weeks? I suspect not.

Instead, Dallaglio should be applauded for speaking out; the effect, after all, could be that the RFU don't spend the aftermath of the next World Cup trying to tell us how good they are.