England to appoint Stuart Lancaster

England poised to reward Lancaster with top job after impressing at interview

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UPDATED:

21:51 GMT, 24 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster remains the strong favourite to be appointed England’s permanent head coach in the next few days after impressing a four-man RFU advisory panel at an interview on Thursday.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, who cancelled a proposed trip to the Hong Kong Sevens for further talks with panel members Sir Ian McGeechan and Conor O’Shea on Saturday, is expected to announce the eagerly anticipated appointment this week.

Former South Africa coach Nick Mallett flew back to Cape Town from Heathrow on Friday night and remains Lancaster’s only rival for the position.

Reason to celebrate: Stuart Lancaster (second right) is set for the England job

Reason to celebrate: Stuart Lancaster (second right) is set for the England job

Neither McGeechan nor O’Shea would comment on the process after Satruday’s game between Harlequins and Bath at Twickenham Stoop.

‘I genuinely don’t know when the appointment will be made,’ said O’Shea, Harlequins’ director of rugby. McGeechan was equally reticent when asked if Lancaster would be appointed.

Contender: Nick Mallett departs Heathrow after his England interview

Contender: Nick Mallett departs Heathrow after his England interview

William Hill were offering odds of 7-1 ON for Lancaster to be installed on a permanent basis after leading England to second place in the Six Nations Championship and impressing RFU board and council members. He received a standing ovation from 600 guests, including Ritchie, at a dinner following England’s 30-9 win over Ireland.

Lancaster would like to build a permanent centre of excellence to replace England’s current Pennyhill Park base and also sees summer rugby as a way to improve players’ skill sets.