Lancaster confirmed as England coach for Six Nations
December 8, 2011
Stuart Lancaster is expected to be confirmed as England's interim coach for the Six Nations © Getty Images
Lancaster, the RFU's head of elite player development and head coach of the second-string England Saxons, earns a temporary promotion to fill the void left by former manager Martin Johnson who quit his post in the wake of a disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign. Rowntree emerges as the only coaching survivor from a troubled World Cup assault and will serve as Lancaster's assistant. Completing the new-look coaching trio is Saracens first team coach Andy Farrell who has been seconded from the Premiership club for the course of the Championship to become England's backs coach.
Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith stood down after England's World Cup quarter-final exit to France while defence coach Mike Ford and forwards coach John Wells, who were both part of the England coaching team at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, also appear to have departed.
"All three of us are really excited about the opportunity ahead," Lancaster said in a statement. "Andrew has done an outstanding job at Saracens and the Saxons; Graham has enormous respect from the players and has vast experience and I am confident that we can work well together as a coaching team."
Lancaster, who also took charge of an England XV that lost 38-32 to the Barbarians at Twickenham earlier this year, is keen to build on the positives from 2011. "The World Cup was enormously disappointing but we shouldn't forget that England won 10 out of 13 games this year and a Six Nations title," he said. "We have a promising group of players to go forward with and the challenge for Graham, Andy and myself is to get the best out of them."
The decision to appoint a caretaker boss was taken by the RFU management board following a review into the World Cup by the Professional Game Board. A permanent appointment is expected ahead of England's summer tour to South Africa with former Springboks and Italy coach Nick Mallett considered one of the leading contenders for the position.
The RFU's acting chief executive Stephen Brown hailed Lancaster's promotion and underlined his credentials and those of his assistants. "It was important that, following the recommendations of the Professional Game Board and the commitment we made as an RFU Board last week to implement them, an Interim Head Coach was appointed as soon as possible," he said. "Stuart is not only an experienced coach but his role as Head of Elite Player Development puts him at the forefront of producing international players.
"He will be well supported by Graham, with all his experience with England and the British Lions and Andy, who has helped Saracens become one of the leading clubs in the country and we are grateful to them for allowing Andy to join us on a temporary basis. We believe this coaching team is the right one to collectively take England forward in the short term."
Saracens were quick to heap praise on Farrell with director of rugby expressing his joy at the news. "We're delighted for Andy and this is a fantastic opportunity for him," he explained. "For those of us who work with him on a daily basis, this role is not a surprise as we all know his qualities.
"We strongly encourage the development of our players and coaches and the experience Andy gains from this role while not only benefit him, but also Saracens. We're fully supportive and we have an excellent group of coaches who will be able to look after things while he is with England."
England kick off their Six Nations against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4 before tackling Italy in Rome a week later. They then entertain Wales at Twickenham on February 25 before taking on France in Paris on March 11. Ireland will provide the opposition in their final Championship outing on March 17.
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