Lancaster hails 'outstanding' England
March 17, 2012
England celebrate Ben Youngs' score © Getty Images
Interim England coach Stuart Lancaster praised his side after seeing them trounce Ireland 30-9 on Saturday evening.
Owen Farrell kicked 20 points in a near-flawless afternoon, while referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try against an Irish scrum that was obliterated from start to finish. Ben Youngs completed the rout with an opportunist late try as England finished championship runners-up to Grand Slam winners Wales, muting awful Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations in the process and enhancing Lancaster's claims to be the permanent successor to Martin Johnson.
Lancaster told the BBC: "We were outstanding. I'm really really pleased with the performance. Today was difficult but we were outstanding in every department. At the outset there's a long-term plan, and that revolves around giving a load of young players some experience. I think a lot should be made of their self-belief, they believe in the team, they believe in the direction they're going, they believe in the coaches and it showed today."
Speaking at the post-match press conference, he added: "First of all, I just want to express my pride in the performance today. We talked a lot as a group about team belief, believing in each other and also in self-belief. The team came together eight weeks ago at a Yorkshire Two club in Leeds. Obviously it's been a great journey.
"The second half was outstanding, against an Ireland side that has been together a long time and are clearly well-coached. I'm sure the English fans enjoyed the scrummaging-fest and the control we put on the game. I'm delighted really and it's been a great week for me. "I'm delighted for the players, the management, who've really bought into this new England team and the supporters.
"The campaign has probably exceeded most people's expectations, but I think, ourselves, we've always known we've had a good group of players and we've always believed in our ability to get the best out of them."
Asked how much he wanted to remain as England boss, he added: "That's for others to decide, but if you said to me I'd be walking around Twickenham applauding 82,000 people with a group of lads I respect and a management group I respect I would have taken it."
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who was part of the World Cup campaign, paid tribute to the rebuilding job Lancaster has done with the national team. "We've been born again as a new team under Stuart. It's hard to reflect on that (the World Cup). That was such a long time ago and we've come such a long way," Rowntree said.
"It's been an emotional ride this last eight weeks but the credit tonight lies completely with that young group of players. I look at the pack today (Saturday) and half that pack debuted in Scotland. A new set of forwards, a front row average age 24 and they've driven everything.
"I've kept an eye on what they've done but their passion and the energy and their want to do well for each other, I'm so proud of them. For me that makes the World Cup a distant memory. We are born again, made everyone proud of us again and we are still not the finished article. There's still loads more to come."
England No.8 Ben Morgan, named Man of the Match following an outstanding display, added: "Performing like that against a tough, tough Ireland side is just incredible. The group has come together, the team that Stuart has brought in for us has made us grow."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.