Mallett emerges as favourite long-term choice as England rugby coach
THE prospect of Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster being in charge of England for the Six Nations Championship and of former Springboks and Italy coach Nick Mallett then taking the reins through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup hardened today.
England’s RFU’s acting chief executive, Stephen Brown, indicated that money would be no object in the search for the right man and a manager will be appointed to work alongside the head coach, aping the way Wales and New Zealand operate. The union also conceded that it would be preferable to have a more hands-on, track-suited head coach. This was not to malign Martin Johnson’s regime, but to put in place a set-up that has sharper lines of responsibility.
The clear terms of reference laid down by the RFU management board could not have been better tailor-made to Mallett’s CV. The England-born Mallett, who has spent most of his life in South Africa, is not available until later in the year.
The RFU announced on Wednesday that it wants to “take time” to find a new head coach, will scour the world to do so and, crucially, will expect whoever gets the job to report only to the chief executive and not to a performance director. Mallett made it clear at the start of the week that he would have no truck with working with any sort of elite rugby director.
The RFU wants the new man in place for England’s three-Test tour of South Africa in June. Ian Metcalfe, the Professional Game Board’s chairman, indicated that they would go through a thorough process to attract the right candidates but admitted that he had phoned Mallett to check out his situation, stressing that this had been after Johnson’s resignation. Even though he was pressed as to the precise terms of reference for the new man, quality is the only factor that matters.
“Our aim is to the get best people,” said Metcalfe, who alluded to a business strategy he favoured. “It’s about getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. And if you get the right seats for them, then there’s a chance of all going in the right direction.”