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RFU step up recruitment drive

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has vowed to deliver Stuart Lancaster a "world-class coaching team" despite failing to persuade Andy Farrell to join the England set-up.

Lancaster had told the RFU he wanted to keep in place the interim management team that helped guide a new-look England side to second place in the RBS 6 Nations. Forwards coach Graham Rowntree is already on the Twickenham payroll, but Saracens announced Farrell had decided to remain with the club on Thursday.

"Whilst Andy was clearly an important part of the coaching team during the course of the RBS 6 Nations, we fully respect his wishes to continue as a coach at Saracens," Ritchie said. "We will continue to work hard with Stuart Lancaster to build a world-class coaching team as we look towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015."

Farrell's decision to stay with Saracens is a serious blow to Lancaster, who must now decide how to replace him in time for England's three-Test summer tour of South Africa.

Wayne Smith, the attack specialist who helped New Zealand win the 2011 World Cup, is a strong long-term candidate having already expressed an interest in working with England. But Smith is currently unavailable until after the summer tour, having vowed to see out the Super Rugby season with the Waikato Chiefs.

There have been reports linking Brian Ashton with a role in South Africa while Lancaster may look to London Irish attack coach Mike Catt or Clermont Auvergne's Alex King.

Lancaster, Farrell and Rowntree succeeded during the Six Nations in restoring the image of English rugby that had been so battered during the 2011 World Cup.

Farrell had been seconded from Saracens, where is still has two years remaining on his contract, and he has decided to continue his coaching development at club level.

"It has been a special privilege for me to be involved in the Saracens coaching staff for the past two-and-half seasons," Farrell said in a statement. "We have made decent progress during this period but, in truth, as a club, we have barely scratched the surface of our potential.

"The job isn't anywhere near half done, and I have decided I want to help finish the job."


From Belfast Telegraph