Proud Lancaster plans England future
March 29, 2012
Watch Stuart Lancaster's press conference
Stuart Lancaster described his appointment as England head coach as "an honour and a privilege" as he spelt out what he feels is needed for the team to claim World Cup glory on home soil in 2015.
Lancaster's appointment was confirmed today following a successful Six Nations campaign as interim manager where he led England to second place in the championship, helping to rebuild reputations after a disappointing World Cup showing under Martin Johnson last autumn. His next task will be to lead England on a tough summer tour to South Africa, and he set out his blueprint for how England can move forward in the build-up to 2015.
"The two words that spring to mind are honour and privilege," he said. "Being head coach of your national team in any sport (is an honour), but to do it at a time when we've got a World Cup in our own country is a huge, huge honour.
"It's a very proud day for myself and my family, but it's not about me, it's about the team and the connection between the team and the English public. We had 82,000 people come to watch us Twickenham, there were 10 million people or thereabouts watching the Ireland game. England is a country that gets behind a team, there is no country that does that better than England."
Lancaster, who has worked his way up through grassroots coaching and is a former England Saxons coach, still works as assistant coach to the West Park Leeds under-11s team but his thoughts drifted last night to how he could take England to the top of the professional game.
"I was sat last night at West Park in Leeds having finished with the under-11s and we were talking about the tour - not the South Africa tour, the Scarborough tour," he said. "I was sat there planning that and I thought 'what would I want to see if I was a mini-team rugby coach or a spectator?' and there are three things I'd like to bring to the (England) team.
"The first is pride, in wearing the shirt and the connection with people. The second is the vision for the future, and that is to win the World Cup in 2015. The third is for the players to play without fear, that when they come to play for England they can seize their opportunities and play without fear."
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie was not prepared to take questions on the make-up of Lancaster's support staff. Forwards coach Graham Rowntree is expected to remain part of the set-up but it remains to be seen if Andy Farrell, who was seconded to England for the Six Nations by Saracens, will join Lancaster's backroom staff on a permanent basis.
Lancaster added: "It's been everything that I've worked towards, going through all the coaching qualifications, it's what you strive for and it's a shot in the arm for all those people who believe in coaching. For me to get to the pinnacle it's an unbelievable honour."
Lancaster was given the full-time role on merit and being English did not favour him over other candidates, according to Ritchie.
"I don't see it (appointing Lancaster) as a gamble," said Ritchie. "Stuart was given this job on merit against very strong competition. There were a large number of interested candidates in this job."
Despite his lack of international coaching experience - the Six Nations aside - Lancaster was the best man for the job, Ritchie said. He added: "He ticks all of the boxes that we need. We came back to the view that Stuart was the best candidate."
Asked if it was important that Lancaster was English, Ritchie said: "It's a bonus almost rather than a factor. To get the best candidate for the job was what we wanted, nationality was irrelevant."
Ritchie said the RFU felt Lancaster was well equipped to deliver at the World Cup. "We appointed somebody who we felt would put us in the best place to be competitive to win the World Cup," he added. "It's going to be very tough, the next series of matches in the autumn are against some very good teams."
Ritchie also rejected the suggestion Lancaster could have continued as interim coach. "It's right to make the appointment now. We've got to move on," said Ritchie. "It's been very interesting to see the support that Stuart has received and it's right that has been taken into account."
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