Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Lancaster plans England crackdown

Stuart Lancaster

England's new interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has vowed to crack down on the cultural and disciplinary problems which contributed to a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Lancaster, an ex-school teacher, has joined forces with Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell to form a temporary management team that will lead England into the 2012 Six Nations. The Rugby Football Union currently have a five-man panel, led by Rob Andrew, hunting for the permanent successor to Martin Johnson.

Leaked reports painted the picture of a dysfunctional squad at the World Cup, but Lancaster said: "Environment shapes behaviour. For the first 20 years of my life I came from a small farm in Cumbria where you have to graft and work hard. I spent the second 20 years in Yorkshire, where you get 'nowt for owt'. There'll be no airs or graces in this camp."

He added: "I'm a schoolteacher from my old background. A group of pupils can go through five different lessons in a day and behave differently in every lesson because of the standards of the teacher and the values they set.

"Little things to me are important. Things like being on time and being courteous at all times. We have to get back to the sense where we are all in it together. It serves no purpose to blame and counter blame.

"If we give a strong enough reason to the players about why it's important to be responsible and be respectful of the rose and what the rose represents then everything falls into line behind that.

"I'm confident in our ability to create the right environment and the right vision that they'll come motivated and desperate to get back on the field to represent England and improve on where we finished the World Cup."

Lancaster will place the emphasis firmly on youth when he names his 32-man elite squad on January 11. That could mean the end for elder statesmen like Mike Tindall and Jonny Wilkinson - but an exciting future for players like Chris Robshaw, who has captained Harlequins to 14 straight wins this season.

"We have got a fantastic group of young players coming through. We have an opportunity to look at them and see how they get on on the international stage and I don't think we should shy away from that," said Lancaster, who worked with the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs at Saxons level.

Rowntree is the only member of England's senior World Cup management team to be retained and he will take charge of the forwards. Farrell, who worked with Lancaster in the Saxons in 2010, has been seconded from Saracens and will oversee the backs and defence.