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Stuart Lancaster: England coach needs a tin hat and flak jacket

Published 06/10/2015

Sam Burgess has been dropped from England's matchday 23 for their final World Cup game
Sam Burgess has been dropped from England's matchday 23 for their final World Cup game

Stuart Lancaster insists England's head coach needs "good luck, a tin hat and flak jacket" as he reflects on his near four-year Twickenham stewardship.

Sir Alex Ferguson described the position as coach of the England football team, which he turned down twice, as "impossible" due to the pressure, scrutiny of the media and the expectation of supporters.

Lancaster views his role at the head of English rugby as a "brilliant job", but insists it is not without its challenges as the Red Rose prepare for the final match of their doomed World Cup against Uruguay.

When asked what he would say to himself when given the job in 2012, with the benefit of what the job had in store, Lancaster said: "Good luck, get a tin hat and a flak jacket.

"It's a brilliant job but it's a tough job. I think people underestimate the complexity of how injuries, form, fitness, the EPS agreement, having so many players and the must-win game nature of England rugby affect the decisions you've got to make.

"I understand that, not having nailed a Six Nations or a grand slam and certainly not having nailed this World Cup there is no room for error. Obviously that'll all be taken into consideration over the next few weeks."

The positions of Lancaster and his assistants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt are subject to a review by the Rugby Football Union that will be conducted once the World Cup is over.

England were knocked out of the World Cup by Saturday's 33-13 defeat to Australia and while Lancaster's future is undecided, he believes the team is in rude health.

"I think there is a lifespan to international coaching. I think there is a lifespan to coaching any team," Lancaster said.

"National coaching is different to club coaching, you've got great club coaches who have been around for a long time. With club coaching if you are the same manager for a period of time you can change the players.

"That's what Ferguson did...he stayed the manager but the players changed along the way.

"At international level the players tend to stay the same. There is an inevitability that the coach will have to change.

"But for an international coach, because you only have a few games each year, it takes longer to build. I think other people have proven that.

"That's not me stating a case for me one way or another. I'll wait and see how I feel and how the RFU feel in the next couple of weeks.

"But I do think that once we get over the emotion - and no-one is more disappointed than me that we haven't delivered in the games against Wales and Australia - it shouldn't take away from the position the team is in at the moment."

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