Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Lancaster begins search for coach

Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster faces the first hurdle of his regime as England coach after the Rugby Football Union failed in their attempts to recruit Andy Farrell from Saracens.

Lancaster had told the RFU he wanted to keep in place the interim management team that helped guide a new-look England side to second place in the RBS 6 Nations, but Sarries have announced Farrell will be staying with them.

"It has been a special privilege for me to be involved in the Saracens coaching staff for the past two-and-a-half seasons," Farrell said in a statement. "The job isn't anywhere near half done, and I have decided I want to help finish the job."

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths said at the outset he wanted a quick resolution to avoid the issue becoming a distraction over the closing weeks of the season.

Farrell's decision is a serious blow to Lancaster, who must now decide how to replace him in time for England's three-Test summer tour of South Africa.

Wayne Smith, the attack specialist who helped New Zealand win the 2011 Rugby World Cup, is a strong long-term candidate, but he is unavailable until after the summer tour.

There have been reports linking Brian Ashton with a role in South Africa while Lancaster may look to London Irish attack coach Mike Catt.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie vowed Twickenham would provide Lancaster with the best management team available.

"Whilst Andy was clearly an important part of the coaching team during the course of the RBS 6 Nations, we fully respect his wishes to continue as a coach at Saracens," Ritchie said.

"We will continue to work hard with Stuart Lancaster to build a world class coaching team as we look towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015."

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