Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Lancaster takes inspiration from Fergie

Stuart Lancaster has selected a youthful squad for England's three-match tour to Uruguay and Argentina

Stuart Lancaster's decision to rest five leading stars for England's tour of Uruguay and Argentina is founded on a determination to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson's achievements with Manchester United.

Chris Robshaw, Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Brad Barritt and Toby Flood have all been afforded the summer off to recharge their batteries before England begin an intense two-year build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Tom Wood will captain a youthful squad featuring 11 uncapped players on the three-match tour, which includes two Tests against Argentina.

Of retiring Manchester United manager Ferguson, Lancaster said: "He has always managed to change and renew his team at the right time but keep the energy, the discipline and culture from within and continue to win. He is a model for all young coaches like me."

Lancaster, a student of coaching and management techniques, admires Ferguson for his longevity and his ability to keep evolving the United team while challenging consistently for titles.

In rugby terms, New Zealand have set the standards for consistency and Lancaster is determined that England never again have to rebuild from scratch, as he had to after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The decision to rest key players has been taken specifically with the 2015 World Cup in mind, with this summer being the last opportunity for those players to enjoy an extended break before the tournament on home soil.

This time next year, England embark on a three-Test tour of New Zealand before heading into what is effectively a 14-month season that ends with the World Cup on home soil.

But it also affords Lancaster the opportunity to build vital strength in depth which, he hopes, will allow England to keep evolving in the way Manchester United have done and avoid the boom-and-bust cycle which followed the 2003 World Cup triumph.

"What I admire about him (Ferguson) most is his longevity and his ability to continually keep his team at the top of the performance cycle," Lancaster said.

"What teams typically tend to do is get to the top of the clock, using the clock analogy, and then they don't change and they start dropping down."

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