Eng­land still con­sider the road to Lan­caster

Red Rose could call on for­mer head coach de­spite World Cup dis­as­ter

Sport360 - - News - By Nick Pure­wal b @Nick­Pure­wal ✉ ed­i­to­[email protected]

Eng­land have re­fused to rule out an at­tempt to bring for­mer boss Stu­art Lan­caster back into their coach­ing set-up.

The Rugby Foot­ball Union (RFU) will in Jan­uary launch the search for a coach to join Eng­land’s back­room staff af­ter the 2019 World Cup.

Eng­land bosses want head coach Ed­die Jones to men­tor his even­tual suc­ces­sor, with that can­di­date yet to be fi­nalised.

The RFU will con­vene a panel in the new year to in­ten­sify that search, and in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Melville has re­fused to dis­miss the mer­its of re-em­ploy­ing Lan­caster, who lost his head-coach­ing role af­ter the 2015 World Cup.

When asked if cur­rent Le­in­ster coach – and po­ten­tial Ire­land tar­get – Lan­caster would be a can­di­date for the fu­ture Eng­land back­room va­cancy, Melville replied: “I’m not sure, I haven’t spo­ken to Stu­art so I’m not sure if it’s the path that he sees for him­self.

“I’ll be meet­ing with ev­ery­one who is a po­ten­tial tar­get for us and I’ll make the list based on that.

“I don’t know what other peo­ple might be think­ing but all our top English coaches will be con­tacted.”

Asked if the RFU would have any reser­va­tions re­vert­ing to Lan­caster, Melville con­tin­ued: “No, not a prob­lem, why would it would be a prob­lem?

“I’ll talk to any­one who has the req­ui­site tal­ent to do the job for us.

“It will be a pretty good search. We have been mon­i­tor­ing ev­ery­one for the last 18 months.

“We have got a spread­sheet of ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one, all around, dif­fer­ent lev­els, as­sis­tant coaches, kick­ing coaches, and we have English coaches over­seas as well. Quite a few in France. In Scot­land. All sorts.

“And a lot of over­seas coaches in the Pre­mier­ship too. It is quite a broad thing.”

Lan­caster was sacked af­ter the 2015 World Cup where Eng­land be­came the worst-per­form­ing hosts in tour­na­ment his­tory for fail­ing to progress be­yond the group stages.

Lan­caster’s as­sis­tant Andy Far­rell also lost his job af­ter the 2015 tour­na­ment, but has since re­built his coach­ing ca­reer with Ire­land.

The for­mer dual-code in­ter­na­tional will suc­ceed Joe Sch­midt as Ire­land head coach af­ter the 2019 World Cup, and that leaves Lan­caster firmly in the run­ning to join Ire­land’s back­room staff.

Lan­caster helped Le­in­ster claim the Pro14 and Cham­pi­ons Cup dou­ble last sea­son, as the for­mer PE teacher re­asserted his coach­ing cre­den­tials.

Melville in­sisted Eng­land would con­sider coaches from all back­grounds, whether English or for­eign, based in the Pre­mier­ship or over­seas.

“We want the best per­son, don’t we?” said Melville.

“We want the best per­son for the job. I am English, this is Eng­land, of course it would be great to have an English coach.

“But we have got to have the best coach for the job.”

Melville scotched any no­tion of Pre­mier­ship pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion be­ing scrapped this sea­son, af­ter sev­eral English clubs were un­der­stood to have pushed for fast­tracked ring-fenc­ing.

But the in­terim RFU chief did con­cede that ring-fenc­ing the top di­vi­sion may even­tu­ally come to pass.

Asked if pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion could be halted for this sea­son, Melville replied: “I think that’s called wish­ful think­ing isn’t it?

“Sud­denly peo­ple want some­thing to hap­pen now. Well, no, that’s not how it works. Noth­ing is go­ing to change as re­gards this sea­son.

“I won­der why this week we’re talk­ing about pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion?

“You look at the ta­ble and you can see why, with six or seven teams sep­a­rated by four points.

“I some­times get a bit un­com­fort­able with the team go­ing down com­ing up every year, be­cause the in­tegrity of the com­pe­ti­tion starts to be im­pacted.

“Peo­ple start to say ‘what is the point?’ You have Eal­ing at the mo­ment who do have the re­sources and are chal­leng­ing at the top (of the Cham­pi­onship) and oth­ers as­pire to do that, whether that’s Cor­nish Pi­rates or York­shire Carnegie or any­body else.

“That op­por­tu­nity is still there, but the gap is so big and it seems to be get­ting wider. If it con­tin­ues to get wider, should we have a re­view of that and have a closer look at that? Po­ten­tially.”

Not a prob­lem. Why would it (bring­ing Lan­caster back) be a prob­lem? – Melville

In de­mand: Stu­art Lan­cater’s coach­ing for­tunes have taken a se­ri­ous up­turn since the mis­ery of falling at the first hur­dle dur­ing the World Cup with Eng­land in 2015.

Open minded: Nigel Melville.

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