Lancaster named England head coach
March 29, 2012
Lancaster has landed the England job © Getty Images
Stuart Lancaster has been appointed as England's new permanent head coach on a four-year contract, the Rugby Football Union have confirmed.
Lancaster, 42, will lead England into their home Rugby World Cup in 2015 after seeing off competition for the job from Nick Mallett. Lancaster's permanent appointment follows his successful reign as interim head coach, during which he led England to second place in the Six Nations and rebuilt the reputation of the national team.
Lancaster's appointment was proposed by the RFU's new chief executive Ian Ritchie, who oversaw the recruitment process, and was ratified unanimously by the board.
"I am immensely honoured and proud to accept this role," said Lancaster. "From the hundreds of messages I received during the Six Nations I know what supporting England means to millions of people and I am privileged to be involved.
"The players, coaches and the management were superb during the tournament and it's down to them that we made such positive steps from when we first met up in Leeds. The challenge now is to take this squad and the players we will see emerge forward to 2015. It is one that I can't wait to get stuck into.
"We have a massive task ahead of us in South Africa this summer and we have 37 games before that first World Cup match on home soil, so every second counts in developing players who can win that tournament - which has to be the ultimate aim. I want to thank Ian and the panel for giving me the chance to explain my vision for England Rugby and, with their backing, I feel very positive about the future."
It has been a remarkable rise from relative obscurity for Lancaster, a former school teacher who spent two years as director of rugby at Leeds before joining the RFU. Lancaster stepped up from his dual role as Saxons coach and the RFU's head of elite player development to lead England into the Six Nations after Martin Johnson stood down in December.
England had just crashed out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals and the subsequent leaked reports indicated a squad riven by distrust and competing agendas. At that stage, the RFU had already contacted Mallett and Lancaster was not deemed to be a realistic long-term candidate given his inexperience at Test level.
But Lancaster rebuilt the England team on the pitch and they rounded off the Six Nations with a victory over World Cup finalists France in Paris and a 30-9 thumping of Ireland at Twickenham. Off the pitch, Lancaster's efforts in restoring the reputation of English rugby won him immediate admirers within Twickenham's executive team.
Lancaster engaged with sponsors and media and succeeded in his stated aim of reconnecting the England team with the public, holding an open training session in Leeds and running community coaching projects. Lancaster also clamped down hard on ill-discipline, setting the tone by omitting Danny Care from his Six Nations squad after he was arrested - and subsequently convicted - for drink driving.
There was a wave of public support behind Lancaster even though he did not have the sustained top level coaching experience of candidates such as Mallett and Jake White, who ultimately pulled out of the process. But Lancaster, who was interviewed last Thursday, demonstrated to Ritchie and his four-man advisory panel that he has both the vision and the qualities required to deliver England success at the 2015 World Cup.
Ritchie consulted with Conor O'Shea, Ian McGeechan, Rob Andrew and Richard Hill before presenting Lancaster's name to the RFU board.
"We have been through a rigorous and global selection process and are confident that Stuart is the right person to lead England forward into the 2015 Rugby World Cup," Ritchie said. "He has shown throughout the Six Nations and subsequently in both interview and other conversations I, as chairman of the advisory panel, have had with him that he has the skills and vision needed to be the England head coach.
"I would also like to thank the advisory panel for their time and invaluable advice during the course of the process. I have been very lucky to be able to draw upon great rugby expertise and for that I am grateful. I am sure everyone in England will join me in congratulating Stuart on his appointment. He can be assured of my support and everyone in the union as he embarks on what we all hope will be a successful period for English rugby."
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