England rugby chiefs have confirmed the five-man panel tasked with reviewing the team’s miserable World Cup and effectively deciding the fate of head coach Stuart Lancaster.
Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Ian Ritchie is joined by former British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan, ex-England player Ben Kay, Ian Watmore, the one-time chief executive of the Football Association, and Professional Game Board chairman Ian Metcalfe.
The panel has already started its investigation, which will include questioning players, coaches and management over why England became the first World Cup host to exit at the competition’s group stage.
That failure has left Lancaster’s hopes of being in charge for a fifth Six Nations hanging by a thread, and Ritchie himself called the team’s performance “hugely disappointing”.
“While the RFU will be focussing on continuing to deliver a fantastic tournament over the next two weeks, it is hugely disappointing not to have progressed through to the knockout stages,” he said.
“With that in mind, we have begun to review the senior team’s campaign to ensure that we learn and improve from this experience in order to be consistently successful. There will be extensive input from players, coaches and management staff, as well as an external perspective gathered.”
Ritchie added that his panel’s recommendations to the RFU board, to be made after the World Cup, would remain confidential, in contrast to the findings of a review into the 2011 campaign, which was widely leaked.
McGeechan, 68, has led the Lions on four tours as well as coaching his native Scotland and Wasps, who he led to the Premiership and Heineken Cup.
Former Leicester second-row Kay, 39, was part of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning team and has worked as a pundit since retiring in 2010.
Watmore, 57, has been on the England Rugby 2015 board since 2012, when he left the post of permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, and spent an eventful nine months at the helm of the FA before quitting in 2010.