Lancaster pushes for centre of excellence
March 21, 2012
Stuart Lancaster is hopeful the RFU will build a new facility © Getty Images
Stuart Lancaster says he would use the position of England head coach to put a new centre of excellence at the top of the Rugby Football Union's agenda.
Lancaster, who remains favourite to be offered the full-time role after guiding England on an interim basis during the Six Nations, believes the RFU should build a training base for the senior England team. France have a similar set-up at Marcoussis and the Football Association are pressing ahead with their St George's Park centre of excellence in Burton-upon-Trent.
"Long-term, I do think England need a national centre of excellence, without a doubt. It would allow you to deliver high performance," said Lancaster. "Within the professional rugby department, it has never been put to one side or put in the bin, it has always been there on the back-burner.
"Now, it is definitely moving to the front of everyone's minds, about what needs to come next. I think it is important for whoever is getting interviewed to talk about the long-term plans both on and off the field.
"I would need to speak to the new chief executive (Ian Ritchie) to see what his mindset would be on the subject because it is not a decision for me in my role at the moment. From my understanding there is a motivation to move it forward - but I couldn't say any more than that at this stage, because there would be rather a lot of money involved, I imagine."
England currently base themselves in Test weeks at Pennyhill Park, a spa hotel in Bagshot, Surrey, which has its own gym and rugby pitch on site. Lancaster took England to training camps in Leeds and Loughborough and insists England need their own dedicated training centre, with indoor and outdoor pitches, to ensure the best possible preparations.
That message was hammered home during the week of England's Six Nations game against Italy, when a frozen pitch at Pennyhill Park forced the squad to travel to training bases across London and the south-east.
"That Italy week was incredibly difficult for us to manage - we ended up all over the place," Lancaster said. "To not have the provision to train in the bad weather, the cold, to have a frozen pitch and have to go an hour-and-a-half into London to find a pitch, then to have to go to a school, was really difficult."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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