Tag Archives: mallett

Stuart Lancaster appointed new England manager

RFU hand reigns to Lancaster… just as we told you they would!

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UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 29 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster was acclaimed as the man who can guide England to glory at the home World Cup in 2015 after his appointment as head coach was confirmed at Twickenham on Thursday night.

Following Sportsmail’s exclusive story that the 42-year-old Cumbrian had been nominated by the RFU’s selection panel, his elevation to the post was duly ratified by the board.

Lancaster, who overcame high-calibre opposition from Nick Mallett, has been awarded a four-year contract thought to be worth close to 1.5million.

Master of all he surveys: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster poses at Twickenham on Thursday

Master of all he surveys: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster poses at Twickenham on Thursday

Life looking rosey: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday

Life looking rosey: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday

The appointment of the former
schoolteacher means England will approach the next World Cup under the
guidance of a man with just five Tests on his c.v., albeit with
victories in four of those.

However, RFU chief executive Ian
Ritchie insisted the decision gave the host nation the best chance of
success. ‘We have appointed somebody to put us in the best place to win
the World Cup, which is so important for us,’ he said. ‘I believe we
should be very, very competitive.

‘We believe Stuart has earned this
opportunity. He is unquestionably the right man for the job. I don’t see
this as a gamble. The RFU board unanimously approved this appointment
and it was a unanimous recommendation from the panel, which was
important.’

Vision of the future: Lancaster during his unveiling press conference at Twickenham on Thursday

Vision of the future: Lancaster during his unveiling press conference at Twickenham on Thursday

In a reference to the tough stance
Lancaster has taken on discipline, as an antidote to the controversies
at last year’s World Cup, Ritchie added: ‘The values Stuart has
inculcated into the team are the values we espouse at the RFU.’

Lancaster, who succeeds Martin
Johnson, was bullish about England’s prospects. ‘We absolutely can win
the World Cup,’ he said.

‘I’m hugely optimistic. We have to advance, but
we have some great foundations in place.’

Former Springboks coach
Mallett offered congratulations to his rival, tipping him to ‘build on
the good work he has done in the aftermath of a difficult World Cup’.

And England captain Chris Robshaw praised Lancaster for winning the
squad’s ‘trust and respect’.

Reborn: Lancaster transformed England from World Cup flops to Six Nations title contenders

Reborn: Lancaster transformed England from World Cup flops to Six Nations title contenders

Welcome on board: Lancaster with Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive (right)

Welcome on board: Lancaster with Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive (right)

But amid the messages of support,
2003 World Cup-winning wing Ben Cohen told talkSport: ‘I don’t think he
is the right man. Nick Mallett has got credentials coming out of his
ears. You look at the Six Nations as a honeymoon period and there are
testing times to come. You want someone who has experience of managing
through that.’

Andy Robinson is to continue as Scotland head coach despite his side’s RBS Six Nations whitewash.

The rise and rise of Stuart Lancaster…

1969: Born October 9 in Penrith, Cumbria.

1992:
Makes his debut for Leeds, where he became a regular fixture in the
side. Lancaster was Leeds' regular flanker and captain until 2000.

2000:
Retires from rugby after playing at Headingley for eight years after
becoming the first Leeds player to play a century of games since the
amalgamation of Headingley and Roundhay.

2001: Appointed head of the Leeds RFU Academy, a position which he held for five years.

2006:
Became the director of rugby at Leeds Carnegie and led them to
promotion back to the Premiership following a title-winning season in
2006-07.

2008:
Appointed the head of the Rugby Football Union's elite player
development in March, helping to bring through a number of exciting
talents including England scrum-half Danny Care.

2010: Becomes manager of the England Saxons.

2011: Wins the Churchill Cup with Saxons.
December 8- Announced Lancaster would
head up an interim England coaching team, also including Graham Rowntree
and Andy Farrell, for the Six Nations.
December 11 – Names an elite player squad featuring nine uncapped players and 13 changes from the World Cup campaign.

2012: January 25 – Announces his intention to apply for the job on a permanent basis.
January 30- Names Chris Robshaw as captain in their Six Nations opener against Scotland.
February 4 – England beat Scotland 13-6 in Lancaster's first match in charge.
March 17 – England finish second in the Six Nations behind Wales.
March 29 – Lancaster is appointed England head coach.

… and his record as England caretaker

Stuart Lancaster has an impressive record since taking charge of England as caretaker manager:

Played 5 Won 4 Lost 1

February 4 – Scotland 6 England 13

Lancaster's tenure began with a
scrappy first England win at Murrayfield in eight years as Charlie
Hodgson charged down a Dan Parks kick to score the try which Owen
Farrell converted. Farrell finished with eight points on his debut.

February 11 – Italy 15 England 19

Hodgson and Farrell came to the
rescue once again as England trailed 12-6 and looked set for a first
defeat in 18 Test matches against Italy in a freezing Rome. Hodgson
scored another charge down try and Farrell kicked 14 points with four
penalties and a tough conversion.

February 25 – England 12 Wales 19

England were denied what could have
been a match-drawing try, if they had gone on to kick the conversion, as
David Strettle was ruled by the television official not to have
grounded the ball in the final play of the game. Farrell kicked four
penalties as Wales clinched the Triple Crown.

March 11 – France 22 England 24

Lancaster's stock rose with a narrow
win in Paris as tries from Manu Tuilagi, Ben Foden and Tom Croft gave
England a mathematical chance of winning the title going into their
final game of the championship.

March 17 – England 30 Ireland 9

An impressive win put the dampener on
St Patrick's Day celebrations as England dominated, their scrum proving
particularly dominant. Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try
against the beleaguered Ireland scrum and Ben Youngs also touched down.
Farrell kicked 20 points.

Ben Foden backs Stuart Lancaster for full-time England appointment

Foden backs Lancaster for full-time England appointment after Six Nations success

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 26 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster has received a timely boost in his bid to become England’s permanent head coach after one of the Red Rose’s key players gave him a ringing endorsement for the role.

After guiding England to four Six Nations wins out of five in an interim role, Lancaster is the favourite for the full-time job in what is a two-way fight with South African Nick Mallett.

And with the new man expected to be announced imminently, full back Ben Foden has put his weight behind the loudening calls for Lancaster’s appointment.

‘You can’t question what the guy has done,’ he said. ‘He’s made all the right decisions, he’s got the right guys involved with him, you can’t really fault anything that Stuart has done.’

The boys and the black stuff: Ben Foden, Jamie Roberts, Jamie Heaslip and John Barclay chew the fat at The Stoop

The boys and the black stuff: Ben Foden, Jamie Roberts, Jamie Heaslip and John Barclay chew the fat at The Stoop

Lancaster opted to blood several young and uncapped players in this year’s championship, and Foden, who at just 26 is now one of the senior members of England’s squad, praised the former Saxons coach for his bravery in selection and his innovative man management methods when touting the Cumbrian for the full-time role.

‘He’s been brave in his selection choices and he’s been very positive in the way he’s approached it in terms of the media and bringing people in to gee-up the squad,’ he said.

‘Clearing out all the players he did and bringing in the youth and the guys that are playing on form for their clubs – they’ve all risen to the challenge and proven that they’re ready for international rugby and that’s the sign of a good coach at the end of the day.

‘You can’t do more than that. He’s done particularly well with the time he’s had and hopefully if he’s given any longer he’ll be able to take us even further.’

With all the hard work that went into ensuring England made a swift recovery from their disastrous World Cup campaign, it would seem a shame to many to change the coaching personnel and go back to square one.

Backing: Foden has thrown his weight behind Stuart Lancaster

Backing: Foden has thrown his weight behind Stuart Lancaster

And Foden hopes the side’s performances, in particular in the wins over France and Ireland, will help to keep the squad and backroom staff together.

‘I think that’s why everyone is delighted with the way that things have finished, we showed that the England camp is a good and positive place to be and everyone involved in it is doing very well,’ he said.

‘Hopefully if they’ve all put their hats in the ring and said “I’ve been part of this successful unit where we got things right”, then hopefully they will all be there next year.

‘You know that when you do go back to it it’s going to be a positive place because of how things were left.’

Foden admitted that England’s clinical performance against Ireland in the final game of the Six Nations, a 30-9 win, was in part dedicated to the backroom staff that have helped to rejuvenate English rugby.

‘We knew there was a lot on the line,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t just Stuart either, it was guys like Wig (Graham Rowntree) and (Andy) Farrell and the physios and the strength and conditioning guys.

‘Everyone comes to a point in their careers where they have to renegotiate their contracts and that point’s coming up, and we wanted to go out and play and show everyone out there that was looking in that this was a happy environment with a lot of positives to take out of it and everyone was doing their bit to make sure we were there.

‘We’re all one big family, it wasn’t just a squad of 32, it was a squad of 50, 60 people and that was what was key, everyone feels part of the squad so we win and lose as a squad.’

‘It was a big pat on the back for everyone involved in the England squad on that day.’

Due to the off-field antics of some during the World Cup last year, England’s rugby side became public enemies No 1 in the eyes of rugby fans and media, but the Six Nations success has created a feel-good atmosphere.

In the hotseat: Lancaster oversaw a successful Six Nations campaign

In the hotseat: Lancaster oversaw a successful Six Nations campaign

Credit for that, according to Foden, has to go to Lancaster.

‘Stuart’s been pretty instrumental in making us open our eyes to the fact that it’s a great honour to play for England and we’ve got a whole nation behind us if we perform right and use the media to get on our side,’ he said.

‘The whole thing around English rugby, with the RFU being so strong, with the facilities being offered at Pennyhill Park, playing at Twickenham in front of 80-odd thousand people where it’s always virtually sold out. It’s just a massive driving force.

‘If we can get all that behind us and use that to our advantage then we should be pretty unstoppable as a nation.

‘We’ve taken the right steps in the right direction to start the train rolling towards that 2015 home World Cup.’

England head to South Africa in June for a three-Test tour, and while Foden is currently focusing on trying to secure Premiership glory for Northampton – whom he scored two tries for in a 32-15 win over Wasps at the weekend – he admits he is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Springboks.

‘It’s the next test for us as a squad to go up against southern hemisphere teams,’ he said.

‘We want to test ourselves against the best sides in the world. Our next challenge is to go over and take those big scalps and it’s another step in the direction, hopefully we’ll be able to do that with positive and good performance out there in South Africa.’

And would he like to see Stuart Lancaster in charge for the tour

‘Definitely’.

Guinness ambassadors Ben Foden, Jamie Heaslip, Jamie Roberts and John Barclay were taking part in the Guinness Rugby Challenge where Guinness Facebook fans got the chance to play for their country at the Twickenham Stoop.

As in the Six Nations, Wales won the competition, beating an English team including Foden and players from the Birmingham Barbarians club in the final. For more great content go to www.facebook.com/guinnessgb

Wayne Smith: I could work with Stuart Lancaster

I could work with Lancaster in England role, says Kiwi guru Smith

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 23 March 2012

As Stuart Lancaster and Nick Mallett were interviewed for the England head coach job on Thursday, a respected Kiwi who could end up working with the successful applicant suggested the English candidate has done enough to stay on.

Wayne Smith was one of Graham Henry's assistants in the All Blacks management team which masterminded last year's World Cup triumph.

He didn't apply for the top England role, citing the job specification as 'waffly', but the former Northampton coach has indicated his willingness to join forces with Mallett in a Test role and now he has strongly hinted he would also consider working with Lancaster.

Stu's the man: Smith believes Lancaster has done enough to land the England job full-time

Stu's the man: Smith believes Lancaster has done enough to land the England job full-time

The men regarded as the last two contenders to succeed Martin Johnson were understood to be outlining their vision for England's future to the RFU in London.

They were due to face a five-man panel consisting of new Union chief executive Ian Ritchie and his four advisers – Sir Ian McGeechan, Conor O'Shea, Rob Andrew and Richard Hill.

While Mallett was for a long time considered the strong favourite based on his vast coaching pedigree, Lancaster is widely assumed to have claimed the upper hand based on a superb effort in the RBS Six Nations, in which he guided his rookie England team to four wins.

Wayne Smith on England role

Click here for the full blog

However, it is thought elements in the RFU remain wary of appointing a relative Test novice and would be in favour of doing so only on the basis that he is assisted by a figure of authority, which is where Smith has entered the equation again.

For now, he is coaching the Waikato Chiefs in the Super 15, but from September he has suggested he would be open to offers.

Asked if he would be prepared to work in a management team headed by Lancaster, Smith was coy, saying: 'Could I work with Lancaster I don't know the man, I like where I am at the moment, but I respect what he has achieved. And is that question the right way round

'I have been asked, with reference to England, if a number of strong coaches can work together. It can work, but your beliefs and philosophies need to be aligned.'

Smith offered an emphatic tribute to the work done by Lancaster in galvanising England from a bleak position following their World Cup fiasco.

However, he was adamant that the team's attacking game – his personal forte – would have to improve if they were to compete with the might of the SANZAR nations.

In the spotlight: Lancaster's chances have been boosted after an excellent showing in the Six Nations

In the spotlight: Lancaster's chances have been boosted after an excellent showing in the Six Nations

In the spotlight: Lancaster's chances have been boosted after an excellent showing in the Six Nations

In his therugbysite.com blog, he said: 'Stuart Lancaster has done a hell of a job in his short time. England have not played the best rugby in history, but they have come together as a team, built belief in each other and played with pride.

'I assume Lancaster will now get the England job on what he has achieved so far.

'Lancaster went away from mainstream selections and showed that he has a knowledge of the young players coming through. He chose well, but also had the sense to know that you cannot try too much at the start of building a team.

'England played a type of rugby to limit mistakes and put pressure on the opposition. With a new captain and a lot of inexperience in key positions, it made pragmatic sense. But Lancaster will know that as far as England have come, they will have to keep improving if they are to compete with the southern hemisphere.

'They play South Africa four times, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji before the end of the year. They won't beat those sides just smashing the ball up. They will need an attacking strategy and they will need alignment with all the coaches and players.

In the running: Mallett (seen here with Smith) could take the reins heading into the World Cup

In the running: Mallett (seen here with Smith) could take the reins heading into the World Cup

'As I said, I assume Stuart Lancaster will get the job. I also assume he will be able to get Andy Farrell out of his Saracens contract and keep Graham Rowntree on board. But it is win-win for England, because I also have huge respect for Nick Mallett's abilities. I await the puff of smoke with interest.'

England hooker Dylan Hartley has been ordered to appear at a Six Nations disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday to face charges of biting flanker Stephen Ferris during last Saturday's 30-9 win over Ireland at Twickenham.

The Northampton captain's case will be heard by an independent panel chaired by Welshman Roger Morris. Wales have completed the process of securing the services of all their Test coaches on long-term contracts, with the announcement that forwards coach Robin McBryde has signed a deal which will run until the end of the next World Cup in 2015.

The former Llanelli and Scarlets hooker has been involved in the national set-up since 2006.

Six Nations 2012: Stuart Lancaster has dragged England "out of the gutter"

Coach Lancaster has dragged England 'out of the gutter', claims Rowntree

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UPDATED:

13:22 GMT, 20 March 2012

England's interim coach Stuart
Lancaster has been hailed for restoring pride in the national team during the RBS 6 Nations.

Lancaster, who took the reins in the
wake of England's disastrous World Cup campaign, is expected to
interviewed for the full-time position later this week.

Screen test: Stuart Lancaster faces the television cameras at the Six Nations debrief at Twickenham

Screen test: Stuart Lancaster faces the television cameras at the Six Nations debrief at Twickenham

The Rugby Football Union are thought to also have the former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett on their shortlist.

Lancaster's bid for the job was fully endorsed by forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who said the environment he had created in the England squad was better than he had ever known.

England finished second in the championship and succeeded in restoring a sense of national pride in the team.

'Stuart has dragged us out of the gutter,' Rowntree said.

'We failed (at the World Cup) and the whole leaked reports business was messy. That was only a few weeks ago but we've come a long way.

The message: Lancaster (right) and forwards coach Graham Rowntree give a presentation to the media at the Six Nations debrief at Twickenham

The message: Lancaster (right) and forwards coach Graham Rowntree give a presentation to the media at the Six Nations debrief at Twickenham

'My over-riding feeling is of pride –
but there's a load more to come from this group of players and I'm
dying to work with them again.

'I don't want anything to change. You can't argue with what he's done, performance-wise and culturally with this group.

'On Saturday night after the official dinner we went back to the hotel and a cracking night but it was tinged with sadness because we felt emotionally the journey was coming to an end.

'I have never felt that before. I have always been ready for home.

'The players have created that environment on the back of Stuart's culture. It was the best I've know as a player and coach – better than Lions because of the place we were in beforehand.'

Lancaster persuaded Saracens to loan Andy Farrell to England's interim coaching team but he has now returned to club duty, where he has a two-year contract.

Youngs at heart: England scrum-half Ben Youngs leads the celebrations after dashing over for his cheeky solo try

Youngs at heart: England scrum-half eads the celebrations after dashing over for his try against Irelandf

Saracens insist there is no prospect of a permanent job share and that is one issue Lancaster must address when he meets the RFU's interview panel.

Rowntree has relished the tight three-man management group that Lancaster put in place and would like Farrell to continue in his post as backs coach.

'I understand Andy's position (with regards to Saracens) and I admire Andy's loyalty,' Rowntree said.

'I have really enjoyed working with him, training with him and drinking with him!'

SIX NATIONS 2012: Stuart Lancaster should get job – Alex Corbisiero

Corbisiero adds voice to calls for Lancaster to be awarded permanent England job

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 18 March 2012

England prop Alex Corbisiero has made a strong case for the Rugby Football Union to keep Stuart Lancaster and his interim coaching team in place on a permanent basis.

Lancaster's bid for the job strengthened every week as England secured second place in the RBS 6 Nations championship, a campaign they rounded off with a 30-9 demolition of Ireland on Saturday.

Jake White has already bowed out of contention and Nick Mallett, thought to be another leading candidate, appears to have conceded the job to Lancaster.

Dominant: Alex Corbisiero (right) was impressive in England's win over Ireland

Dominant: Alex Corbisiero (right) was impressive in England's win over Ireland

Speaking after England's triumph over Ireland, Mallett said: 'You can't see the RFU wanting to change a coach when you look at the team and how happy they are.'

And that was exactly the message Corbisiero portrayed after he had played a lead role in the destruction of the Irish scrum.

'I have nothing but great words to say for (forwards coach) Graham Rowntree,' Corbisiero said.

'It is not my decision (what happens with the coaches), but we have all be very impressed with him. He is a guy that commands respect and players want to play for him – you can see that in the whole team.

'You can see that with Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell. We have a good environment, we play for each other and we play for the coaches.

Main man: Stuart Lancaster (centre) has been backed to continue his work

Main man: Stuart Lancaster (centre) has been backed to continue his work

'Whatever happens, happens, but there are a lot of positives where we are at the moment.'

Lancaster took the reins on a temporary basis after the World Cup debacle and his new-look team have restored a sense of pride in English rugby and delivered results on the field.

England won at Murrayfield for the first time in eight years and last weekend they ended France's 10-match unbeaten home run in the championship.

Lancaster's men rounded off the Six Nations with a victory over Ireland founded on a ferocious scrummaging performance, which earned a penalty try and allowed Owen Farrell to kick 20 points.

Team: Andy Farrell (right) and Paul Stridgeon have helped England bounce back

Team: Andy Farrell (right) and Paul Stridgeon have helped England bounce back

Ben Youngs came on to add a late second try with a quick tap penalty, which had been earned by another destructive England set piece effort.

With the front row boasting an average age of just 24, Corbisiero warned the global game there is a lot more to come from England's scrummagers.

'Last year Dylan (Hartley), Dan (Cole) and I learned a hard lesson against Ireland in Dublin, but we put a lot of things right,' Corbisiero said.

'I am very proud of the boys and very proud to be involved.

'Hopefully we have got a lot more years together to develop and keep improving. We showed that in each game, taking it a step up.

'I am really enjoying being in this environment under Rowntree with those guys playing. It has been absolutely exceptional.'

Patrick Collins: Stuart Lancaster has to get the vote

Lancaster has to get the vote after this display…

PUBLISHED:

23:49 GMT, 17 March 2012

As the celebrations erupted around Twickenham and English victory became a rousing reality, a small smile flickered across the face of Stuart Lancaster.

Nothing presumptuous, of course, nothing to suggest that the auditions were over and the job was his.

But if Lancaster does not land the permanent England post after this season's achievements, then there may be revolution in the shires.

Smiles better: England coach Stuart Lancaster takes pride in Owen Farrell's performance

Smiles better: England coach Stuart
Lancaster takes pride in Owen Farrell's
performance

His trial has dragged on week by week, and this shy man has become resigned to his place in the television director's standard cutaway.

Are England sufficiently convincing Have they done enough to land him the job Does he look the part Is he inspiring Never were credentials so rigorously examined.

But he came through it all with a deal of dignity.

Whenever he was asked about it, he insisted that the prospect of a permanent job has never crossed his mind.

He did not expect to be believed. It was a game he played with the interviewer. He knew that the process was faintly demeaning, most notably after the opening matches with Scotland and Italy, when England were dreadful and Lancaster's employment prospects were less than rosy.

Enjoying their afternoon: (Left-right) Dan Cole, Chris Robshaw Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero

Enjoying their afternoon: (Left-right) Dan Cole, Chris Robshaw Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero

But first against Wales, then most notably in Paris, his stock rose.

Of course, the name of South Africa's Nick Mallett is constantly flung in his face, but such matters are far beyond Lancaster's control.

So on Saturday he sat by the side of a soggy field in Middlesex and hoped that the rugby men of England would seal his deal.

As we listened to him on Saturday night, we sensed his satisfaction.

Heads up: England's front row of Cole, Hartly and Alex Corbisiero get ready for a scrum

Heads up: England's front row of Cole, Hartly and Alex Corbisiero get ready for a scrum

His forwards coach, Graham Rowntree, was almost dramatic: 'We were born again as a new team under Stuart. We made everyone proud of us again. There's a load more to come.'

But Lancaster was low key, speaking of pride and belief, but insisting that nobody was getting carried away.

And that was right and proper, since England are far from the finished article.

Immense presence: Geoff Parling wins the lineout

Immense presence: Geoff Parling wins the lineout

This success represented a remarkable transformation of a season which began in the wake of a catastrophic World Cup, carried on through a couple of notably inept opening performances, then took flight in narrow defeat against Wales, stirring the trouncing of Ireland, a vindication of a young team, a tribute to the coach and his methods.

The evidence for Lancaster is mounting by the match. In normal times, Ireland might not be the team a coach on trial would choose to meet, and especially not on St Patrick's Day.

True, their midfield desperately misses the stricken Brian O'Driscoll, while their front five are bereft without the injured captain Paul O'Connell.

And true, they possess oceans of European experience and they are at ease with a fluid, running game.

But their deeper instincts are for chaos, for mayhem, for lung-bursting blood-tingling anarchy.

And as the thick grey curtains of rain swept across Twickenham, those instincts were initially obeyed.

So England were tested by both the weather and by a team that, before Saturday, had prevailed in seven of the past eight championship matches between the sides.

It is a remarkable sequence, which never looked like continuing.

England were first tentative, then persevering, and finally inspired by the control their forwards were enforcing.

England's set scrum started to do to Ireland precisely what the Irish did to them in Dublin last year.

Grim, intense, implacable, they strolled around the place with the arrogant muscularity of a bunch of nightclub bouncers.

They greeted those set scrums with a collective, sadistic leer.

They marched the green shirts backwards at will, heaving them here and there, controlling, dictating, ultimately humiliating.

Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole enjoyed the afternoon of their rugby lives.

Geoff Parling was an immense presence, while Ben Morgan made merry mischief in the back row.

Nerveless kicking: Emerging talent Owen Farrell was again in fine form for England

Nerveless kicking: Emerging talent Owen Farrell was again in fine form for England

The whole unit was almost a throwback to an earlier generation of English forwards who bore menacing names like Johnson, Dallaglio and Leonard.

In the latter stages, they were not flattered by the comparison. The nerveless kicking of Owen Farrell offered further opportunities for comparison with that fine side.

As kick after kick was driven over with the precision which comes from impeccable technique and endless work, the name of Jonny Wilkinson infiltrated every conversation.

Quite unfair, of course, yet quite inevitable.

Devoured: England thrashed Ireland to round off the Six Nations

Devoured: England thrashed Ireland to round off the Six Nations

All that was missing was the signature score, a try to demonstrate how complete had been England's domination.

It came with a quick tap penalty from substitute scrum-half Ben Youngs, who wriggled through a woeful defence and scampered over in devastating comfort.

That was the moment when simple victory became a rout. For English hearts, it was the more welcome for being so unexpected.

Ireland's rugby men are not used to being treated in so dismissive a fashion, but on Saturday they fell apart so completely that England may well have been flattered by the ease of their task.

Poster boy: Owen Farrell barks orders at a scrum

Poster boy: Owen Farrell barks orders at a scrum

For a moment at the final whistle the stadium screens featured a picture of Ian Ritchie, the new chief executive of the RFU and the man whose opinion will count most heavily when the coaching post is filled.

He was standing and applauding, approving the English display and, by definition, the man who produced it.

Stuart Lancaster: a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Kyran Bracken wants Clive Woodward and Stuart Lancaster for England

World Cup winner Bracken backs Woodward and Lancaster team as England's best option

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UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 16 March 2012

Kyran Bracken's answer to England's coaching conundrum would be to appoint Sir Clive Woodward as director of rugby and retain Stuart Lancaster as head coach.

Bracken, the former England World Cup-winning scrum-half, has also urged the Rugby Football Union to buy Lancaster's assistant coach Andy Farrell out of his contract with Saracens and tie him to the national team full-time.

Lancaster was appointed on an interim basis for the RBS 6 Nations campaign but he has applied for the full-time role along with, it is thought, the former South Africa coach Nick Mallett.

Support: Kyran Bracken has backed Stuart Lancaster (left) to be England's permanent head-coach

Support: Kyran Bracken has backed Stuart Lancaster (left) to be England's permanent head-coach

The RFU do not currently have a director of rugby position within their England management structure. Woodward is currently working as the British Olympic Association's director of sport.

Bracken said: 'What the coaching team need moving forward is more expertise in many different areas.

'The first and most important is having a director of rugby who knows his stuff. Nick Mallett would be good but why not look at Clive Woodward again

'He has the knowledge to assist Lancaster in developing the team and providing support off the pitch.

'Woodward's mantra was always about creating certainty and excellence off the pitch so that excellence could be attained on it.

Winner: Bracken (left) won the World Cup with England

Winner: Bracken (left) won the World Cup with England

Choice: Bracken would like Sir Clive Woodward as director of rugby

Choice: Bracken would like Sir Clive Woodward as director of rugby

'That is why the powers that be don't like him around, because he spends their money like it grows on trees and stops at nothing to being the best.

'He will bulldoze his way to create a centre of excellence with little regard for the blazers.

'That is what Lancaster needs and I fear if he does not have it he will become another reject after a run of losses.'

Bracken has been impressed by the work Lancaster has done in transforming the reputation of the England team, following the damaging debacle of the World Cup.

England head into tomorrow's clash with Ireland on the back of three successive away victories, including a 24-22 triumph over France in Paris.

But he believes Farrell, who is on loan to England from Saracens for the duration of the Championship, has been a key figure in that process.

'Andrew Farrell has in my opinion been crucial in motivating the players to believe in each other and the cause,' Bracken added in a column for GamePlan.

'I don't believe Saracens will let him leave their coaching staff without a fight. Assuming he goes back to Saracens would Lancaster thrive without him I don't think so.

'Just like Sir Clive Woodward may not have been so successful without Andy Robinson.'

Bracken has also suggested the RFU bring in a raft of specialist coaches, including Mike Catt, and new fitness and leadership experts.

SIX NATIONS 2012: Graham Rowntree to stay on as coach regardless of who gets the England job

EXCLUSIVE: Mallett happy to keep 'Wig' on in England set-up if he gets the top job

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 14 March 2012

Graham Rowntree, England’s forwards coach, is the sole member of the interim management team assured of the chance to carry on working with the national team.

Interim coach Stuart Lancaster faces an anxious wait to hear if he will get the role long term, while Andy Farrell will be returning to his club, Saracens.

Staying on: Graham Rowntree will keep his job in the England set-up regardless of who get the full time job

Staying on: Graham Rowntree will keep his job in the England set-up regardless of who get the full time job

But it is understood former Leicester prop Rowntree is highly regarded by Lancaster’s main rival, Nick Mallett, who sees ‘Wig’ — as he is affectionately known — as key to his plans if he is installed by the RFU.

After the failed World Cup campaign last year, Rowntree, then the scrum coach, was the only member of Martin Johnson’s coaching staff to escape any criticism about the set-up in the leaked reports.

In the running: Nick Mallett is up against Stuart Lancaster for the England job

In the running: Nick Mallett is up against Stuart Lancaster for the England job

Rowntree said: ‘Having to step up to be forwards coach has been a challenge for me. If I get that right then what happens afterwards will hopefully be right for me.’

Saracens wing Dave Strettle is likely to reclaim his starting place — as long as he has recovered from a sternum injury — in an otherwise unchanged England team to be named on Thursday.

If there are any late doubts about his fitness, Charlie Sharples will deputise again.

Six Nations 2012: Stuart Lancaster won"t get carried away over England job

Lancaster refuses to get carried away as England calls get louder

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 12 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster refused to be seduced by the growing clamour for his appointment as England's permanent head coach.

Lancaster was bombarded with in excess of 130 text messages congratulating him over Sunday's 24-22 victory over France, a result that lifted his team to fourth in the world rankings.

Manu Tuilagi, a try-scorer in Paris, and former England winger Austin Healy today added their voices to the chorus of support for the 42-year-old's claim to the job.

In the hot seat: Stuart Lancaster is keeping calm over speculation regarding full-time England role

In the hot seat: Stuart Lancaster is keeping calm over speculation regarding full-time England role

Healy even stated that the Rugby Football Union would be 'insane' to overlook him for a post that sees former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett as his closest rival.

Humbling the pre-tournament favourites at the Stade de France in such thrilling style has further strengthened Lancaster's position, but he is remaining guarded over his prospects.

'I'm level-headed in lots of ways, I guess it's my Cumbrian upbringing where I keep my feet on the ground,' he said.

'I'm trying to get people to understand it's not about me personally.

'The team is made up of many component parts. I won't be getting carried away, I can assure you.

Celebration time: Lancaster is jubilant at the final whistle as England beat France

Celebration time: Lancaster is jubilant at the final whistle as England beat France

'I had probably 130-140 texts after the game, which is an unbelievable number.

'The majority were from people I'd taught at school, from Leeds or from former colleagues.

'The general tone was expressing pride in the team and pride in the direction the team is going in, which reinforces the belief in the journey we're going on.

'This win definitely reinforces the belief that between the three of us (assistants Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree) we're definitely going in the right direction.'

England captain Chris Robshaw yesterday endorsed Lancaster's credentials to succeed Martin Johnson and tonight Tuilagi, a try-scorer in Paris, followed suit.

Three wise men: Lancaster is flanked by his coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell

Three wise men: Lancaster is flanked by his coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell

'Stuart has done a very good job. Personally I hope he gets the job, but that's not my decision to make. Good luck to him. We'll wait and see,' the Leicester centre said.

England conclude a Six Nations that has surpassed all expectations against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

They retain an outside chance of successfully defending their title but Grand Slam-chasing Wales, who host France, remain in the driving seat.

Ireland have gathered momentum throughout the Six Nations and Lancaster urged his side not to spoil their good work by allowing standards to slip in a match that could decide second place.

Backing: England captain Chris Robshaw has given his support to Lancaster

Backing: England captain Chris Robshaw has given his support to Lancaster

'The key thing is to back-up the win against France when we play Ireland, who are very well coached,' he said.

'Saturday at Twickenham will be a fantastic occasion, but we must back up that performance with a better one.

'You're only as good as your last game and the reality is we have a match against formidable opponents this weekend.'

Lancaster reported no fresh injury concerns with Owen Farrell to continue at fly-half despite bruising his shoulder during a late tackle on Imanol Harinordoquy.

Number eight Phil Dowson should be fit after taking a bang on his head, as should lock Tom Palmer whose hamstring cramp has seen Dave Attwood drafted in as precautionary cover.

Winger David Strettle, a late withdrawal against France because of a sternum injury, will resume non-contact training on Tuesday.

SIX NATIONS 2012: England turn on style to put Stuart Lancaster in driving seat

Manufique! England turn on style to put Lancaster in driving seat

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UPDATED:

02:22 GMT, 12 March 2012

Manu Tuilagi set England on their way to a storming victory in Paris on Sunday that may confirm Stuart Lancaster in the head coach’s job.

The 20-year-old centre scored a sensational long-range try in the 13th minute to ignite a performance that the interim coach claimed has ‘put the pride back’ in the nation’s rugby after the disastrous World Cup. Ben Foden and Tom Croft also touched down in a pulsating 24-22 win that was in doubt until the final seconds.

Manu for all seasons: Tuilagi hurdles in to score England's first try

Manu for all seasons: Tuilagi hurdles in to score England's first try

Lancaster described the victory as one of his proudest. ‘It was an unbelievable day,’ he said. ‘To go round the stadium at the end with 15,000 English supporters cheering you was unbelievable. You can’t overestimate the power of a nation being behind you. Going back to Twickenham to play Ireland on Saturday is going to be a huge occasion.’

Lancaster insisted he had not given any thought to the mounting speculation about the head coach role and added: ‘Genuinely, I haven’t even thought about the job. All I thought about was what can we do to help the team win. That was my overriding emotion – pride in the performance.

In the driving seat: Stuart Lancaster celebrates with his players after the match

In the driving seat: Stuart Lancaster celebrates with his players after the match

‘It comes down to self-belief and team belief. The detractors from the outside may say this, that and the other, but it’s actually about what we believe in.’

The RFU expect to make a decision later this month after the Six Nations finishes but Lancaster is the popular choice to keep out former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett.

Lancaster certainly has the support of his squad led by captain Chris Robshaw and Foden. Robshaw said: ‘We’ve come a long way in six weeks and it’s credit to the coaches who have been great at creating this atmosphere for allowing us to go out and play the rugby we wanted to play.’

Try time: Foden (left) breaks clear for his try and Croft (right) touches down

Try time: Foden (left) breaks clear for his try and Croft (right) touches down

Try time: Foden (left) breaks clear for his try and Croft (right) touches down

Foden was even more upbeat, saying: ‘They have been marvellous so far. Stuart has created an environment and a culture which is very positive and we all buy into what he’s doing.’

France had a chance to snatch victory but Francois Trinh-Duc’s drop-goal attempt fell short. Croft said: ‘That was horribly close. I was petrified. Fortunately it did not make it. It was probably my most enjoyable day in an England shirt.’