Brown: Door open for Lancaster
Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has been told the door is open for him to apply for the full-time job of leading England into the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Lancaster is in temporary charge while Odgers, a firm of headhunters, scour the rugby world looking for suitable candidates to replace Martin Johnson on a permanent basis. Big names like Nick Mallett, Jim Mallinder, Wayne Smith and Rassie Erasmus have all been linked with coaching roles in a new England set-up.
The Rugby Football Union would like to make an appointment before the end of the forthcoming Six Nations, which would seemingly count against Lancaster. But acting chief executive Stephen Brown insisted that timescale is not set in stone, and said: "Stuart has made a fantastic impression and I'm sure if Stuart chooses to apply he will be given every consideration for that job."
He added: "Stuart has to make the decision about whether he wants to be considered for the role. If he does then we will make sure there is time (for him to make his case). The door is not shut, it's open.
"All of the good things you have seen Stuart has done have made a massive impact and that is the kind of thing you want.
"It is not just about the results. Clearly that is important and the focus - but we need to build a team that is strong from a performance point of view and from a cultural point of view for the long term.
"They are key bits we need in place and Stuart is focused on those things as well. That is the admirable bit about Stuart (given he is only in temporary charge). He is not just focused on winning, he wants to get all of those things in place and you have seen the building blocks starting.
"To be frank, everything Stuart has done has made a very positive impact."
All potential candidates for the England job will be considered by the selection panel, the so-called 153 group, to be chaired by the new RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, who takes his post on February 27. The group, which also comprises two members of the RFU and two from Premiership Rugby, will then make its recommendation to the RFU board.
"The advert will be out there for a considerable period of time and that isn't just for Stuart, it's for everyone who wishes to apply. We've got headhunters out there speaking to potential candidates as well," Brown said. "Stuart will have to make his own call. It is a major decision for anyone to make and that is his decision. It's not one we want to influence."