Rugby: Lancaster set to be interviewed

After the most public of auditions, Stuart Lancaster will be interviewed by the Rugby Football Union for the full-time position of England head coach.

Other Sport News: Stuart Lancaster

Lancaster, 42, took charge of the national team on an interim basis in the wake of England's disastrous World Cup and his performance has received ringing endorsements from all corners of Twickenham.

England finished second in the RBS 6 Nations championship and left the stadium after Saturday's thumping 30-9 victory over Ireland to a standing ovation from the 82,000 crowd.

It was a long way from the scenes at Heathrow Airport in October, when England skulked out of a back door with their reputation, according to forwards coach Graham Rowntree, in the "gutter" following the World Cup.

England captain Chris Robshaw has endorsed Lancaster's bid to keep the job on a permanent basis and Rowntree described his achievements in the interim role as the "perfect interview".

Lancaster's tireless efforts behind the scenes to build bridges with the rugby public and sponsors have been praised by commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt.

But the one man Lancaster must convince is Ian Ritchie, the RFU's chief executive whose recruitment process appeared to be aimed at bringing in an experienced head coach to lead England into their home World Cup in 2015.

Nick Mallett, the former South Africa and Italy coach who was first contacted by the RFU in December, is thought to be another leading contender and will also reportedly be interviewed this week.

John Kirwan, who has coached Italy and Japan at three World Cups, was told his application would not be advanced to the interview stage because he had no experience with a nation ranked in the world's top eight.

Nor had Lancaster, but the former PE teacher believes he has proven over the last three months that he has the qualities and the vision required to lead England to World Cup success in 2015.

Lancaster revealed his blueprint in a Six Nations debrief presentation this week, much of which will feature in Thursday's interview.

"I absolutely believe we can win the 2015 World Cup," Lancaster said. "I now have to convince the interview panel I am the right person for the job."

Lancaster has already earmarked a group of contenders for the 2015 World Cup squad he has projected will have a total of 663 caps, stars of the future like Joe Launchbury, George Ford, Joel Tomkins and Anthony Watson.

"If we look at previous winners of the World Cup, Australia in 1999 had a total of 622 caps in their starting XV, England had 638 in 2003, South Africa had 668 [in 2007] and New Zealand had 709 last year," Lancaster said.

"Our rough projection for 2015 with the team that we have got, give or take some players who will drop out and come into it, will have a total of 663 caps, which hopefully will put us in a good place."

Against Wales in the Six Nations, England fielded a side with just 182 caps.

Lancaster will also pitch for the construction of a national centre of excellence and wants the RFU and Aviva Premiership clubs to jointly manage high performance development programmes for all elite players.

At Test level, Lancaster is expected to also push for his senior management team of Rowntree and Andy Farrell to be kept in place.

Farrell was loaned to England for the duration of the Six Nations by Saracens, where he is currently under contract and preparing the team for Friday's Premiership game against Sale.

"I will be making my thoughts clear to the panel who I think the coaching team should be. I want to be able to try and explain how I feel the chemistry has worked well in its current format," Lancaster said.

"We feel we made progress. I think performances have shown that.

"To go away to France and win, to put 30 points on Ireland at home, to win away in Scotland and Italy and to nearly get across the line against Wales, given the fact we met eight weeks ago, we must have got something right.

"How it unfolds from now I can't control. I'd like to think, irrespective of whether it is me or anyone else, we are in a good place."



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