O'Shea and Geech added to selection panel
February 28, 2012
Conor O'Shea will aid the RFU in deciding who should be the next England boss © Getty Images
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea and Bath chief Sir Ian McGeechan have been called upon by the Rugby Football Union to help determine who should be the next full-time coach of England, according to reports.
The five-man selection panel will in all likelihood have to choose between Nick Mallett and current interim boss Stuart Lancaster for who will guide England into the 2015 World Cup. Sitting alongside O'Shea and McGeechan, according to the Daily Telegraph, is Rob Andrew - the RFU's professional rugby director, and head of elite coach development Kevin Bowring. The five-man panel will be chaired by the RFU's chief executive Ian Ritchie - who started his job on Monday.
While Lancaster has already made inroads in restoring pride in the England side after their infamous World Cup campaign, he will face pressure for the job from former Italy and Springboks boss Mallett. Other options for the RFU include former Japan boss John Kirwan and Eddie O'Sullivan.
The appointment of legendary Lions coach McGeechan and Quins boss O'Shea - who has guided his side to the top of the Aviva Premiership this season - has been praised by former RFU chief executive Francis Baron, but he has also moved to query whether a five-man panel is required.
"A five-man selection panel is just too big," Baron told the Daily Telegraph. "It is by committee again which doesn't always mean you end up with the right result. Clearly Premiership Rugby have to have an input and the agreement [with the RFU] gives them the right to consult it. But the actual decision remains that of the RFU.
"Both Geech and Conor are clearly very good coaches and Conor worked for us for three years so he knows the RFU well and they will have a very useful input. But my overall concern is that a committee of five is just too big and it smacks of political compromise rather than necessarily focused on getting the right man for the job."
And Baron is still hopeful that the panel will settle on an English coach. "It is a tough call new in the job to head this up, but I do think the chief executive has to have a major say in this, particularly as the head coach will report to him," Baron said. "Ian [Ritchie] has to lead on that because if we don't get the results -- as I found out -- you get the media on your back pretty quickly.
"I personally hope that we do find an English or a British coach. I am not a great believer in going the foreign route because of the very different nature of the game in England and the need to instill the right values in our players in that very different environment.
"If Stuart continues to improve, and he is learning as he goes along, by the end of the Six Nations if he has delivered a good performance for England he has to be under serious consideration."
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