After it was announced Stuart Lancaster has left his post as England Head Coach earlier today, focus has already switched to who will replace the 46-year-old. RUCK takes a look at the contenders…
Jake White – 5/2 (favourite)
The South African is the early favourite to replace Lancaster and has an impressive CV. Despite never playing the game professionally, the 52-year-old was handed the role of Springboks chief in 2004 after a stint as their under 21s coach.
Although there was some initial scepticism on the appointment, it proved to be a masterstroke as he led his home nation to the 2007 World Cup, beating England 15-6 in the final before leaving his post soon after.
After being inducted into the IRB’s Hall of Fame in 2011, he returned to coaching with the Brumbies in 2012 before heading to the Sharks a year later ahead of a short spell as Tonga’s Techincal Advisor. His current role, as Montpellier head coach, brought a second-placed finish in his first year in charge. Would be viewed as a dependable appointment.
Mike Ford 5/1
The Bath chief has built a reputation as one of England’s most gifted coaches and led Bath to an impressive Premiership season last year. A hard-nosed operator with a liking for technical skills, he arguably has all the attributes to be the next England boss.
He already has history with England having been defence coach during the 2007 World Cup, but would he see leaving Bath, where he and his family are known to be settled, as a viable move?
Rob Baxter 5/1
Another burgeoning talent based in the south-west, Baxter is an Exeter Chiefs legend and has led them to the top of their game, enjoying a fine start to the 2015/16 Premiership season with his boyhood club.
After serving the club as a player for 14 years ahead of his stint as head coach, which started in 2009, he is as loyal as they come in rugby. Would he been keen on moving away from the club he has served for so long? Time will tell, but, much like Ford, he has already had a taste of England duty having joined up with the national team’s coaching staff for their 2013 tour of Argentina and Uruguay.
Dean Ryan 6/1
The Worcester Director of Rugby as tough as they get. After a stellar career as a towering Number 8, he has enjoyed an impressive coaching career which began in 2000.
His first role came as Bristol boss before a seven-year stint at Gloucester. Rumours linking Ryan to the now vacant England post are all too familiar for the 49-year-old after he was seen as Andy Robinson’s successor by many back in 2006.
But he decided to stay at Kingsholm before three years away from the game. No stranger to the international environment having been involved with both Scotland and The Barbarians, he has steered Worcester to a fine recent history which included promotion last year. Staunchly loyal to his club side, but he may see the England job as an opportunity too good to turn down.
Clive Woodward 50/1
England’s answer in 2003, Woodward proved to be the man of the job 12 years ago in leading the men in white to their first ever world title. At 59, Woodward has wound down his career having not held a senior post in rugby for ten years. At 50/1, he is a firm outsider, but in the unlikely event he did return to the national fold, he would undoubtedly imspire the imagination of the public once more.
Jonny Wilkinson – 66/1
Recently retired, Wilkinson remains England’s biggest hero having scored the winning drop goal to secure the 2003 World Cup, his final-minute drop goal sealing a memorable 20-17 final win. Since retiring last year after a five-year spell with Toulon, the England and Newcastle Falcons legend has stepped away from the game entirely.
He has no experience of coaching and is a definite outsider for the role, but he would be sure to receive a warm reception should this shock appointment happen.