ENGLAND’S new head coach Stuart Lancaster laid out his blueprint for leading the team to glory on home soil at the 2015 Rugby World Cup after his promotion was finally cemented yesterday.
The Rugby Football Union plumped for the inexperienced Lancaster over decorated former Italy and South Africa coach Nick Mallett after the 42-year-old led England to four wins from five matches as caretaker boss at the Six Nations.
The former Saxons coach has signed a four-year contract that will take him beyond the next World Cup, in which the usual high expectations will be magnified by England’s status as hosts.
Lancaster described his appointment as “a huge, huge honour” and revealed the three-point plan he hopes will win the tournament – and justify a considerable gamble by new RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.
“The first is pride, in wearing the shirt and the connection with people,” said Lancaster, whose next task will be an arduous three-Test tour to South Africa, which starts in June.
“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.”
Lancaster has already achieved his first objective; the second will have to wait; the third would represent a trick that his predecessor Martin Johnson never mastered, and he himself is yet to pull off, despite encouraging Six Nations results.
Mallett was the big-hitter some felt England needed to compete with the southern hemisphere’s finest. By contrast, Lancaster has reached the top via youth coaching, Leeds, and the second-string Saxons.
“It’s everything I’ve worked towards,” he added. “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. To get to the pinnacle is an unbelievable honour.”
Former Wimbledon tennis chief Ritchie, who only joined the RFU last month, denied the appointment was a risk or that Lancaster’s nationality was a factor. “I don’t see it as a gamble,” he said. “Stuart was given this job on merit against very strong competition.
[Lancaster’s Englishness] is a bonus rather than a factor.”