England agonise over rugby failure

Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster

Manchester - English rugby was on Monday in full inquest mode following the country's disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign with embattled coach Stuart Lancaster fighting for his future.

Amid public splits inside the England camp, there have been calls for Lancaster to be replaced, calls for captain Chris Robshaw to go and calls for a director of rugby to take charge.

Beaten by Wales (28-25) and Australia (33-13) at a World Cup they spent more than $100 million preparing for, England are in their worst crisis as they watch the world's best battle it out for the trophy.

Despite in-depth preparations which included two weeks in Colorado, England produced their worst World Cup performance.

Newspapers have been full of stories of divisions over the naming of rugby league convert Sam Burgess in the team and even the influence on Robshaw of his classical singer girlfriend Camilla Kerslake.

Former players such as Lawrence Dallaglio and Mark Cueto have joined the clamour for change. Others such as Brian Moore say England must let the storm pass and tackle deep-seated problems in the team.

After England finished Pool A with a 60-3 victory over Uruguay, Lancaster said his future is now out of his hands but has urged the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to concentrate on playing issues.

Lancaster said investigators need to look at the preparations for the two warm-up games against France and one with Ireland as well as the defeats by Wales and Australia.- Unlucky England?-

"That should be the main part of it," he said Sunday.

Lancaster, 46, believes England were unlucky against Wales and unfortunate to be the first hosts to fail to reach the World Cup knockout stage.

"Let's say one or two of the penalties which went against us, went for us against Wales, and we are now in the quarter-finals, and we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Lancaster said he was thinking about "how hard I have worked but equally the price to pay when you don't succeed.

"We have got to make sure we nail the big moments. A lot of the time we have done that but the last four years in the Six Nations it has always been a game or a moment in the game to finish a team off that has made us come second- that is the next step this team needs to take."

Clive Woodward, who failed as England manager at the 1999 World Cup but went on to mastermind a brilliant win in 2003 in Sydney, has called for the creation of a director of rugby. Observers say he could be interested in the job.

"He (the director) should be the man to review what has been going on with the England team and determine what changes are required. He is in charge of the rugby," Woodward said in a column for the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Former England frontrow lynchpin Brian Moore and stalwart No. 8 Dean Richards have called for a quiet revolution.

"When you look at it in the cold light of day we were beaten by two sides who were ranked higher than us in the world so there may have been an expectation the team might have struggled," said Richards.

Moore has suggested that Robshaw is not the leader that England needs on the field.

"Let us calm down before everyone is sacked and everything is riven asunder without any real thought about the effects of such change," added Moore in his Daily Telegraph column.

England ended their World Cup with a 10 try 60-3 win over Uruguay. But The Sun said the victory could not "mask the pain" of events off the pitch.

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