Lancaster adamant England are on the right track
March 16, 2013
England coach Stuart Lancaster consoles captain Chris Robshaw following their defeat at the hands of Wales on Saturday © Getty Images
England coach Stuart Lancaster insists his side are still on an upward curve despite being denied a Six Nations Grand Slam by a rampant Wales side at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Wales claimed their fourth Six Nations title in nine years with a stunning 30-3 victory with Lancaster admitting his side's lack of big match experience cost them against their more street-wise hosts - but he maintains that they are on the right track
"It is difficult (to take it on the chin) but when I look back and try and put some perspective on it - the four wins and the New Zealand game and building as a team - there is still an upward curve," Lancaster told BBC Radio Five Live. "We are still developing experience in a young team. What told (in the game) was a few things and one of them was experience. We will be better in the long run.
"The players are hugely disappointed. They feel they have let themselves down, that they have let the country down and it is a difficult place to be. I try and pull them back to the perspective that we had fewer than 300 caps going into a game of this magnitude and how much we have developed in the last 14 months.
"No team goes unbeaten in international sport. The difficult thing for us is we don't meet again until November. It is a long time to wait. I do believe the journey we are on and the plan we have is the right one. We had a lot of over 30-year-olds at the 2011 World Cup and we needed to develop new players. "We have had more ups than downs. This is a down but we will hold our nerve and stick with the plan because I believe it will come good.
"This leaves a huge motivation to make sure it doesn't happen again because it is a desperately disappointing place to be," Lancaster said. "I'm hoping we will lose some players to the Lions, which will give us a chance to bring other lads in. It is probably also the right time in those midweek games and Tests to look at other lads and put pressure on lads in certain positions.
"What we need to create with England is greater strength in depth. We missed Ben Morgan as a ball-carrier up front and Billy Vunipola, who will come through. We've got some younger wingers who we want to have a look at on the summer tour, but it's about finding the right place and the right time to give them experience."
Lancaster is also prepared to look closely at his own contribution ahead of his side's next challenge - this summer's tour to Argentina. "We are all in it together. It is not just about the players. I need to look at what we did during the week and how we prepared for the game and everything else," Lancaster said.
"I will always look at myself first. It will be tough but I knew when I put my hand up for the job that there would be tough times along the way. I had some in South Africa (on the summer tour) and in the autumn internationals and you look inside yourself to see what you can do better."
Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward has urged Lancaster to focus more on the next challenge rather than the bigger picture. "International rugby is a brutal thing. To me, coaching England is (about) your next game. You are picking a team to win on Saturday. It is not about too much development. He has to take that on board now," said Woodward, who experienced three similar Slam failures before steering England to the World Cup crown in 2003.
"I have been through it. I had a lot of success with England but we had some big setbacks," Woodward said. "I am certainly (glass) half full when it comes to Stuart Lancaster. He has done a great job. He took over at a difficult time for English rugby and he has got us into a good position. It was a poor game, we got smashed by Wales, but he will learn from that. He knows he has the players and he has a long time to the World Cup still.
"He has a tough 12 months coming up and this was an eye opener. The rest of the world will look at that and say 'the bubble has been burst a little bit , we see who they are and what we have to do to beat them'. He has to look in the mirror and say 'what is the next stage?' He has done a great job but he has to learn his lessons."
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