Lancaster talks up coaching credentials
January 14, 2013
Stuart Lancaster's England side kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Twickenham on February 2 © Getty Images
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has offered an insight into the approach that saw his side topple world champions New Zealand last month.
Lancaster has nurtured a dramatic turnaround in England's fortunes since their woeful Rugby World Cup campaign in 2011 with an historic 38-21 victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham the latest evidence he has the side on track for a strong showing at the sport's next showpiece event.
In his year in charge, Lancaster has silenced those who questioned the fact he had no Test match experience prior to his appointment but he is adamant that the 10 years he spent as a teacher and a life-time of coaching at every level of the game has taught him something just as relevant.
"Where I feel I am at a comparable level is I've coached for 20 years," he told The Times. "I've done ten years of teaching which is coaching in its purest form. Compare that to one or two other coaches who've only played and then coached for a bit; that's what gave me the confidence."
In particular, Lancaster believes his man-management skills set him apart. "Emotional intelligence is the key requirement to get the best out of people," he said. "I was never academically straight As, but being self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, I am pretty good at that. I can sense how people are feeling and see through their eyes, have empathy for their position, all those softer skills."
However, Lancaster is wary that such an approach does not provide all the answers. "If all you are as a coach is emotional you can't make decisions. If all you are is analytical, you are too cold and people don't want to play for you."
His decision to inject a host of fresh faces on the eve of last year's Six Nations also raised eyebrows as does his continued policy of arguably ignoring the claims of in-form players in favour of those who are more likely to shine on the 2015 World Cup stage.
"The easy thing would be the short-term approach, to win in the here and now," he explained to the newspaper. "We could pick more players with more experience and concentrate on winning the next game for England. But what use would that be when we get to 2014 and those players are past their peak? What we have lacked in the past is a plan."
That process will see the country's leading players handed a "three-year periodised plan" aimed at ensuring they are at their peak in 2015 but the coach himself is looking even further ahead. "I'm not in any hurry," he added. "I'm only 43. In terms of coaching years I've got loads to go."
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