City headhunters asked to find England coach

RFU hire Odgers Berndtson but insist interim boss Lancaster is still in with chance

CITY headhunters Odgers Berndtson have been tasked with identifying England’s next permanent head coach after being hired by the Rugby Football Union.

The executive recruitment firm, which chose the London 2012 organising committee headed by Lord Coe, is understood to have begun its search last week.

It will make its recommendation to the RFU, which hopes to appoint the long-term successor to Martin Johnson by the end of the Six Nations at the latest. That could work against interim head coach Stuart Lancaster, who is relying on results in the championship to stake his claim for a permanent appointment.

Bigger names such as former Stade Francais and Italy coach Nick Mallett, ex-New Zealand boss Wayne Smith and Northampton’s Jim Mallinder have been linked with the position, which Johnson vacated in November following a disastrous World Cup campaign which ended at the quarter final stage and was tainted by a number of off-field scandals.

But RFU acting chief executive Stephen Brown insists erstwhile Saxons coach Lancaster will have a fair crack of the whip.

“Stuart has made a fantastic impression and I’m sure if Stuart chooses to apply he will be given every consideration for that job,” said Brown.

“Stuart has to make the decision about whether he wants to be considered for the role going forward. If he does then we will make sure there is time.”

Odgers Berndtson’s global sports practice is headed by Simon Cummins, a former head-teacher and ex-board member of the English Schools Rugby Football Union.