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Ian Ritchie did not consider leaving top job after England World Cup exit

Published 27/12/2015

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie did not consider stepping down from the position following England's World Cup exit.
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie did not consider stepping down from the position following England's World Cup exit.

Ian Ritchie says he never considered stepping down as chief executive of the Rugby Football Union despite coming in for intense criticism in the wake of England's dismal World Cup campaign.

Ritchie was one of the men whose positions came under the spotlight as England exited the World Cup at the pool stages, becoming the worst-performing host nation in tournament history.

It was Ritchie, the former Wimbledon tennis boss, who ratified Stuart Lancaster's permanent appointment as England head coach in 2012 and then last year gave him a new contract lasting until 2020 .

However, while Lancaster and his coaching team all left their posts after the World Cup failure, Ritchie continued in his role and oversaw the appointment of Eddie Jones as England's new coach.

And Ritchie insists he never contemplated quitting despite calls for his head, telling the Sunday Telegraph: " No, I didn't. When you say 'consider' did you mean did I consider resigning? No, because I think accountability and responsibility - you don't duck them when the going gets hard."

"I obviously thought a lot about what happened in terms of when we recruited Stuart in the first place. Of course you think about what the situation was in 2011 and into early 2012. We saw a complete range of candidates then and we felt Stuart was the best candidate. I felt he was and so did the advisory group that was there as well.

" Perspective is sometimes lacking. Over the last four years, and indeed his four years or three-and-a-half before at the RFU, there were many positive things done. It's not right to pretend that that didn't happen or to ignore it.

"I think there were huge things Stuart did, in terms of connection with the game and with the grass roots, restoring the faith in the set-up."

England moved swiftly to replace Lancaster following his departure by 'mutual consent', with former Australia and Japan boss Jones appointed on a four-year contract in November.

Various names were linked with the England post but Ritchie says the 55-year-old Australian was the only man they offered the role to.

He added: "I had the opportunity to go and see Eddie. It's not often I've had a day trip to Cape Town, and we spent a chunk of time together because you do need to spend some time together, and we got on. All the things he said impressed me. Eddie was the only person we offered the job to.

"When Stuart was appointed I think the general view was that this was a good appointment. I think that most people seem to think Eddie is a good appointment.

"You need to make sure you make the right appointments at the right time with integrity and honesty, and I think that's what has happened."

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