Outgoing rugby chief Ian Ritchie insists he harbours no regret over hiring Stuart Lancaster despite England’s dismal failure at the 2015 World Cup marring his stint in charge of the sport’s governing body.
Former Wimbledon boss Ritchie, who has been chief executive of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) since 2011, has announced that he will retire at the end of the summer.
Lancaster and his coaching staff were handed bumper six-year contract extensions 12 months before the home World Cup, but England’s flop at the tournament ultimately cost the ex-Leeds Carnegie director of rugby his job.
“To be clear, I have no regrets about Stuart Lancaster at all, and I really feel for Stuart and what he put in and the whole coaching team,” said Ritchie. “Eddie Jones just has the knack when it comes to fine margins.”
Since the RFU’s appointment of Jones, England have secured a Grand Slam and successive Six Nations titles and whitewashed Australia Down Under, although Ritchie admits the World Cup collapse represents abiding heartache.
“Without question,” added Ritchie. “As a regret, a home World Cup, not getting out of the pool stages, of course, it was huge. We thought it would be the chance of a lifetime, and it didn’t happen. And that’s it.”