Ritchie: England will want for nothing
England captain Chris Robshaw has been assured his team will want for nothing in their bid to win the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
The Rugby Football Union's chief executive Ian Ritchie has vowed to make the national team's support network the best in the world. The RFU have already recruited the highly-regarded sports scientist Matt Parker, who was central to the success of British cyclists in the Olympics and Tour de France.
England were this week drawn in the group of death with Australia, Wales and, in all probability, Fiji as the Oceania qualifiers. Ritchie said: "I said this in a meeting I had with the players' leadership group - I don't want anyone to say in 2016, 'If we'd had this, we might have won, we might have done better'."
He continued: "All I want to know is what we need to put in place now to make sure over the next three years that the team have everything they want. It's not just the obvious, it's things like analysis and IT support, state-of-the-art technology to look at performance, the absolute best in terms of strength and conditioning and medical support.
"To my mind, we should have the absolute best. We have to keep developing, enhancing and growing, making sure the right support mechanisms are in place for the England team. We need to make sure we have the highest-quality people within the environment - not just coaches."
Ritchie is awaiting a report into the structure of the RFU's elite department, which is being compiled by former UK Sport chief Peter Keen and Sir Ian McGeechan. Keen was the architect of the performance programme that led to Britain's Olympic successes in Beijing. The report was commissioned in the wake of England's 2011 World Cup failure.
Ritchie is confident the victory over New Zealand proves the system is now working but he will not be afraid to act on any proposals from Keen and McGeechan.
"If there are good, radical suggestions, I won't hold back but I really don't think we're in that kind of place," Ritchie said.
"Do we need major heart surgery? I think the patient performed pretty well on Saturday. We had the same players, the same coaches and the same processes in place against the All Blacks as we had at the start of the autumn. Were those processes capable of delivering? Palpably, the answer was 'yes'."
Ritchie will share the conclusions but he stopped short of agreeing to a full publication. It was around this time last year that English rugby was rocked by the leaked reports into the World Cup debacle. "I am quite happy to sit down and talk about what's in it, how we are going to move forward, absolutely. But is it going to be published? No," Ritchie said.