Ritchie happy to look overseas
The Rugby Football Union's new chief executive Ian Ritchie has vowed to appoint the best candidate as the next full-time England head coach, regardless of his nationality.
Ritchie held board positions with Wembley and the Football League before moving to Twickenham and so is acutely aware of the issues that foreign managers of the national team - Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello - have raised in football circles.
But Ritchie has insisted his only concern is recruiting the right man to deliver England the best chance of success in the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil, and said: "All you can do is look at the list of applicants and then choose what we believe is the best person."
England's current interim coach Stuart Lancaster has applied for the full-time post and he is thought to be up against Nick Mallett, the Hertfordshire-born South African, and former Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan.
Ritchie, who took office on Monday after moving to the RFU from Wimbledon tennis, wants to confirm an appointment before the end of the RBS 6 Nations championship with a view to the candidate being in place for the summer tour of South Africa.
Interviews will take place over the next three weeks.
"Let's be clear," Ritchie added, "the primary function is who is the best person, who is going to pick the team, coach the team and produce a winning team?
"What I have said applies irrespective of nationality. I start with no preconceived ideas. If there was an English coach that is great news. But the most important thing is who is the best person; that doesn't matter to me what nationality they are.
"We are talking about here is competing at the highest level in world rugby. What everybody wants, what I want, what you all want is a highly competitive England team that is the best possible.
"I have the highest regard for a number of English coaches. I think the fundamental thing is get the best person to do the job. The nationality is not to me the most important thing."