So the news that many expected was today confirmed as Stuart Lancaster stepped down as head coach of the England Rugby team after nearly four-years in charge. The search will now begin to find his successor in time for England’s Six Nations campaign, where Eventmasters are delighted to provide official Twickenham hospitality packages for the games against Ireland and Wales.
Ultimately the disappointing World Cup campaign and the aftermath including the departure of Sam Burgess and supposedly leaked comments and opinions of players, will have all played a part in Lancaster’s final decision.
There is no doubt that the former Leeds and England Saxons coach inherited a messy situation on the back of the 2011 World Cup. The England team returned from that tournament in disgrace after several ‘incidents’ off the field.
To his credit Lancaster took the bull by the horns and sought to create a culture and environment around the England squad to make the fans proud once again. He brought in a highly regarded coaching team around him and initially selected players based on form rather than reputation. One crucial element was the decision to not select players from overseas ruling the likes of Steffon Armitage out of the international game.
In his first Six Nations Championship, England produced some good rugby, most notably in victories over Ireland at Twickenham and France in Paris. Unfortunately a home loss to Wales ended their chances of winning the title – a theme that would recur in later years.
His finest hour was undoubtedly the victory over New Zealand in the 2012 QBE Internationals. After two narrow defeats to Australia and South Africa, the home side produced a magnificent performance beating the world champions 38-21. A day Twickenham hospitality guests will never forget.
In 2013 England were denied another Grand Slam with a humiliating 30-3 loss to Wales in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium. 2014 saw another second place finish as late loss to France and points difference saw them finish second to Ireland. Can you see a pattern emerging?
In the 2015 Six Nations England again played some stunning rugby, beating Wales in the Millennium Stadium with an inexperienced side and putting 55 points on France were definite highlights. A loss in Ireland and failure to convert several chances against Scotland saw them once again lose out on points difference.
This is a side who should have had at least one Grand Slam title and three Six Nations titles to their name. Lack of leadership and some mental weakness have cost them at crucial times, this issue was never addressed with a change of personnel. If anything he was too faithful to some of his players.
Then came the 2015 World Cup. This was probably the biggest and best tournament in the sports history and the hosts came up woefully short. Poor selection decisions; dropping Dylan Hartley, picking players who were unfit and out of form and the controversial selection of Sam Burgess all contributed to the disastrous campaign.
During his time in charge he achieved the second highest winning percentage of any England coach in the professional era, behind Sir Clive Woodward. However it was results in the big games that continuously let him down. In the results driven world of professional rugby the idea of ‘building for the future’ and ‘gaining experience’ only counts for so much.
One thing is for sure the RFU now have to go out and get the right man for the job whether that be a foreign coach like Eddie Jones or a home-grown talent such as Jim Mallinder. Twickenham hospitality guests attending the Six Nations are desperate to see England succeed after a disappointing World Cup.