Tuesday 21 January 2020

England's revolution makes Lancaster shoo-in for top job

David Kelly

David Kelly

Stuart Lancaster recalls the moment when he knew that this England team had encountered their Damascene conversion from World Cup embarrassments to eager team-builders.

"We were due to have our World Cup review and I was keen to get some of the guys out to do some community rugby work," explained Lancaster, recalling the pre-Six Nations training camp he symbolically relocated from Portugal to Leeds.

"Somebody told me I'd never get the players to do it the next day because it was their day off. I explained I only wanted six but they didn't seem optimistic.

"I tried to explain to the squad what I wanted them to develop, building belief in themselves and each other, trusting in the process rather than the outcome.

"After we were finished Dylan Hartley came up to me and said, 'Stuart, I've bad news, 24 of us want to do that community work but there's only six places'."

Lancaster's first conundrum convinced him his squad were on the right track. Dark shadows remain -- Danny Care's recidivism and Saturday's allegation of biting, unlikely to be proved as video evidence is negligible, despite the private views of many witnesses.

But Lancaster's velvet revolution, echoing so many themes propagated by the Irish during their Grand Slam-winning campaign three years ago, has produced definitive results.

Without playing dashing, creative rugby England only needed to be a little more clinical and experienced in the dying throes against Wales to have been aiming for their own, unlikely Grand Slam.

"We're born again," repeatedly declared forwards coach Graham Rowntree, the world's first cauliflower-eared evangelist.

Nick Mallett, the odds-on favourite for the coach's job two months ago, has already said that the RFU would be foolish not to give Lancaster the gig.

The old farts have done some bizarre things in their time; overlooking Lancaster's obvious claims would rank the highest.

Irish Independent

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