First and second losses to Ireland were poor but at least they were a reflection of their level and ranking, which they had never reached in their history. Hell, they were the number one ranked side going into to RWC, which in combination with recent history explains why we 'played our final' against them in the quarter.
Lions series was a silly red card (which the fact a forward was subbed instead of a back was a bit strange, but we still could have won the game which is remarkable) and/or a non call by a filthy, cowardly frog away from a won series.
England game was bizarre. We didn't seem to ever get to out of 2nd gear, mainly due to how they played but have to wonder how much psychology and selections affected our performance. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. At the end of the day we lost a lot of legends at the end of 2015 that were replaced with players that were too green and probably never will never be at the level of their predecessors.
Make no mistake, SA wanted desperately wanted to win the pool game and didn't, then were flat against Wales. There will be a bit of history written about this SA side because they dominated the England side that dominated us - and fair play as they got up when it really counted - but they aren't head and shoulders above any other team. Perhaps their style was simply a better match for England.