Shultz helped broker the end of the Cold War, so knew a thing or two about building trust in the most paranoid of places.
Webb addressed the England squad at their welcome ceremony here in Le Touquet on Saturday and lingered on Shultz’s definition of trust as a watchword for Borthwick’s men.
The significance cannot be lost on a team desperately clawing at an identity, with confidence shot from three defeats in four, and six in nine under Borthwick.
Webb went to the 1987 and 1991 World Cups with England, all the while building a career as a specialist orthopaedic surgeon, and is now a council representative of World Rugby.
His words were meant to buoy England, but could also be seen as a challenge: embrace trust and reject fear, or fail at this World Cup.
“George Shultz, not a great rugby man but a great statesman, he was in the US government for many years. He said, ‘Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust is in the room, whatever room that is, the family room, the school room, the coaches’ room, the office room, good things happen. When trust is not in the room, good things do not happen. Everything else is details.’
“I trust you all, but most important is that you trust yourselves, Steve and the coaches, and play without fear.”
England need to turn their own Cold War of error-ridden and risk-averse rugby into an Entente Cordiale of brave and fluent attacking style here in France — and fast.
All neutral observers agree that England must sharpen up, as well as expand their approach in order to thrive, yet the coaches insist the players are all on side with Borthwick’s narrow gameplan, and that no major change is required.
England will also wait on a clutch of injury doubts, with Tom Curry, Elliot Daly, George Martin and Kyle Sinckler among them.
“We definitely trust the group to go out there and give a brilliant account of themselves,” said attack coach Richard Wigglesworth.
Come Saturday night against Argentina in Marseille, the World Cup will see whether that trust really is in England’s room.