Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Toby Flood: Stuart Lancaster's time with England was probably up

Former England fly-half Toby Flood believes Stuart Lancaster's time "probably was up" in his role as national head coach.

Lancaster paid the price after England's miserable World Cup failure, stepping down last Wednesday.

England were eliminated just three games into their campaign and became the first host nation in the World Cup's 28-year history not to secure a quarter-final place.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie is now leading the search for what he describes as a coach of "proven international experience."

A number of possible candidates, though, have already ruled themselves out of the running, including New Zealanders Warren Gatland, Wayne Smith and Graham Henry.

South African Jake White, who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, remains the bookmakers' favourite and he has already said that he would be interested in possibly succeeding Lancaster.

Ex- Leicester and Newcastle number 10 Flood, who now plays for Toulouse, played Test rugby during part of Lancaster's reign, winning the last of his 60 caps two years ago.

"(Lancaster) has always been a very proud and honest man. He is a good bloke, but his time probably was up," Flood said.

"He came into it on the back of a World Cup (in 2011) where we got to the quarter-finals, and he said a lot of things that he wanted to change - the culture and system - but obviously, they did not get out of their group (in 2015).

"You can have fantastic things like culture - and he has done fantastic things with that, don't get me wrong - and a lot of credit goes to him for creating a system that allowed the players to lead it."

Whoever succeeds Lancaster, though, Flood does not see any relaxation being made to England's current selection policy that sees them not picking overseas-based players unless in what the RFU describes as "exceptional circumstances."

"I don't see it being lifted. England is a country that has a huge amount of depth," Flood added.

"If you look around, of course there is some talent playing abroad. You have got the last two European players of the year, Nick Abendanon (Clermont Auvergne) and Steffon Armitage (Toulon), for instance.

"These are fantastic players playing in fantastic teams, but beyond that, England have made their standpoint.

"When I left (for Toulouse), Stuart said there was a chance of me coming back, but I think that dwindled and dwindled, I think from pressure from the clubs and the RFU, but I think rightly so, because clubs are then saying players are going to leave.

"So unless they bring hard-and-fast rules, which is what I think Stuart wanted to do, so that it is a black-and-white answer rather than this silly tenuous phrase (exceptional circumstances), it won't change."


From Belfast Telegraph