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England World Cup failure still affects ex-coach Stuart Lancaster

  • Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster says he is still affected by their World Cup failure
  • Lancaster left his role with England after they were knocked out in the pool stages of last year’s home tournament
  • He is now ready to return to full-time coaching
Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed he is still affected by their dramatic Rugby World Cup failure, but is now ready to return to full-time coaching.

“You think about it every minute of most days, or every day really,” Lancaster, 46, told Sportsweek.

“It has been a while, and a lot of things have happened since then, but it’s still fresh in my mind.”

The hosts were eliminated from the World Cup after suffering defeats to Australia -and Wales – and Lancaster says he accepts responsibility for England’s failure.

“I was accountable more than anyone. I was the head coach and it was my responsibility to lead the team,” he said.



Lancaster says he was more pleased than anyone to see the team bounce back to win the Six Nations Grand Slam under his successor Eddie Jones.

“I’m delighted for the players, the management and the coaches that we got the Grand Slam,” he continued.

“I’m equally delighted for the England rugby fans, because they stayed behind the team right the way throughout. They all deserve the success.

“I will always support the England team – whether it is players and coaches – and that will never change.”


ON SAM BURGESS

“It’s a shame for everyone really. I don’t think there was any winner in the end.

“Clearly, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I’d known he was going to go back to rugby league then my decisions would have been different, but we didn’t know that at the time.

“He was a great and positive influence on the group. He worked hard and earned the right, in our minds, to be in the squad.

“I think there’s a perception that I somehow went on a crusade to try and recruit him from rugby league. Actually, what happened was I went to Australia and watched a game [Australia v New Zealand] and I popped in to see various coaches along the way.

“One of those was Michael Maguire [head coach at South Sydney Rabbitohs] and Sam pulled me on the way out and said ‘do you fancy a coffee?’

“We had a chat and he said ‘I want to have a think about playing rugby union, how do I go about doing it?'”


ON THE AFTERMATH OF THE RUGBY WORLD CUP…

“My wife and my daughter came down and my mum and my dad [to the Australia game – which England lost 33-13. Fortunately my wife took them out of the stadium before the game finished. She saw when we lost Owen [Farrell] to the sin bin that the die was cast. It was a sensible move.

“You’re then sat there in your hotel room at two o’clock in the morning, waiting for a press conference at 9 o’clock in the morning with the chief executive to face the world’s media to say ‘you’re out of a home World Cup and you’ve got another week to go to play Uruguay’. That is tough.

“The first thing I did after the Uruguay game was to come back to Leeds, but also to quickly get up to Cumbria to see my mum and dad. They’re the ones that feel the pain more than anyone. It’s probably only mum who can describe the pain she feels when someone is criticising her son.

“They took their caravan to Lorton and I sat in a caravan in Lorton and walked up fells in the Lake District.

“I walked up St Bees Head, where I went to school, and right at the top I bumped into this bloke and he said ‘you’re Stuart Lancaster aren’t you?’.

“Anyway, I went back to the caravan. I had the review around the corner and so I wanted to think things through, and while it was fresh in my mind, write things down.

“So I did that in the caravan and there was a little pub called the Wheatsheaf and I went in there for a beer, which ended up being about eight. There were about five people in the pub at the time.”


ON HIS FUTURE…

“Before Christmas I sent a whole load of emails out to coaches and players and teams and people in the southern hemisphere. Early in the new year I went initially to Wellington, then I went to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Johannesburg, Cape Town and home. So it was a bit of an around-the-world trip.

“I want to coach again. The one thing the World Cup has taught me is that whilst my title was head coach, I probably took on so much that I wasn’t doing as much coaching as I really would want to.

“In my next role I’d want someone to share the responsibility with me so I could concentrate on the coaching stuff, and that was as much my fault as anyone’s. I probably could have got someone in who could have helped me shoulder the burden.”