If he were a Bok, a Kiwi or an Aussie, Lancaster would have the job now
01:02 GMT, 12 March 2012
Sometimes the logic is really quite simple. Imagine this game was the World Cup quarter final, England versus France, that took place in Auckland on October 8 last year.
And imagine it had finished with the same winning margin, England on top by two points. What would have happened next Well, Martin Johnson would still be England coach, for starters. His stewardship would not have come under the same intense scrutiny and he would not have felt the need to resign.
The World Cup would have been regarded as a relative success, boding well for the future, some unsavoury disciplinary issues aside. Speaking of which, Manu Tuilagi would not have taken a header off a local ferry the following morning, which was the final straw for some and conclusive proof that this squad, young and old, was beyond the control of Johnson and his staff.
Sign him up: England have been revitalised under Lancaster
England would then have played Wales in the semi-final, and lost, Wales would have taken their rightful place in the final, and lost, and all would have returned home with honour preserved.
Johnson would have been the man who won the Six Nations and reached a World Cup semi-final in the southern hemisphere, which would have been considered plenty good enough to remain. He would be leading England into the tournament in 2015, no doubt of that.
So, if a two-point win over France would have been enough to secure Johnson's position, why can it not do the same for Stuart Lancaster How long must his audition continue How long do England have to maintain improvement under his management, before common sense prevails and he is an interim appointment no longer
What are the RFU waiting for, looking for, who do they hope will now advance his candidacy It really is rather ungrateful.
Increasingly, it is being forgotten just what a state the sport of rugby was in when Lancaster took charge, the bridges he had to build. It wasn't as simple as winning a few games – three away from home in the Six Nations for the first time in history, in fact.
Ebb and flow: England sprung out the blocks and held off a defiant late French rally (below)
Lancaster also had to restore the image and professional standing of his sport; he had to change old for new; he had to evolve a team, launch a four-year plan capable of winning a home World Cup. /03/11/article-2113623-121F9344000005DC-873_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Give 'em a hand: England achieved that rare feat… victory in Paris and the fans loved it (below)” class=”blkBorder” />
Give 'em a hand: England achieved that rare feat… victory in Paris and the fans loved it (below)
Tom Croft scoring the third by darting deftly through enemy lines, charging on, avoiding a final despairing lunge, the players left in his wake a Who's Who of modern French rugby: Aurelien Rougerie, Imanol Harinordoquy, Clement Poitrenaud.
If the distance between the teams was tight at the end – and has all but guaranteed at least the Six Nations title for Wales, the points difference substantial enough to give them a cushion even if they lose to France on Saturday – it merely underlines England's resolve.
A group of players who were disjointed or poorly organised would have cracked. England held. They still give silly penalties away, but they are a young team, freshly formed. Wales under Warren Gatland are some considerable distance down the road compared to Lancaster, at the start of his journey if he is allowed to travel at all.
The RFU's employment of a firm of headhunters to identify the next England manager now seems an unnecessary extravagance.
The list of foreign names under consideration would be obvious to any rugby enthusiast and if the RFU are to emerge from the process looking even half-competent, the successful candidate should be English.
Team spirit: England were victorious despite having to play for 10 minutes with 14 men
If the richest rugby-playing nation in the world cannot find one of its own to coach the nation to a domestic World Cup, what does it say about the men at the top What are they doing with all this HQ-generated revenue Where is it going Who is it benefiting
The fact is Lancaster has been a fantastic man for English rugby. His passage through the club coaching network and then that of the RFU, reinforces the worth of the system. He has restored the reputation of his sport. He has won matches and increasingly played decent stuff doing so.
If his name was Eddie Jones, Jake White or Nick Mallett, there would be no question that he would be taking England into the World Cup in 2015.
If he spoke Antipodean English, mate, or with the clipped vowels of a South African, Lancaster would be home and dry by now. Instead, the wait continues.
Maybe the RFU are holding out to see something really special. There truly is no pleasing some people.
Best man for the job: Lancaster would have already been handed the role if he had a Kiwi, Aussie or South African accent