Lancaster defends England approach

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 08:26
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Stuart Lancaster has hit back at suggestions he was insufficiently hands-on during his four years as England head coach. 

The 46-year-old, who stepped down as England boss last November after the team became the first host nation to suffer a group-stage exit at the World Cup, was confirmed as a member of Irish province Leinster's coaching staff on Monday.

Three-times European champions Leinster turned to Lancaster after defence coach Kurt McQuilkin left to return to New Zealand for family reasons.

Lancaster will now work under Leo Cullen, the head coach of the Dublin-based side.

As England boss, Lancaster presided over four successive runners-up finishes in the Six Nations before the team failed to escape a 'Group of Death' at the World Cup following defeats by Wales and Australia.

By contrast, Lancaster's successor, Eddie Jones, led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam in his first season in charge and the team have yet to lose under the Australian. 

While he was with England, Lancaster had several high-profile assistants in Andy Farrell, Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree - all former England internationals - with the trio widely reported to be running most of the day to day training sessions.

However, Lancaster said: "I've coached virtually every part of the game, whether I go back to my teaching career 'til I was 30, but I've coached now for 16 years.

"I think there was a perception in England that I probably didn't do any coaching," explained former Leeds Tykes player Lancaster, who since leaving Twickenham has had short-term roles at National Football League (NFL) side the Atlanta Falcons, British Cycling, the Football Association and in New Zealand rugby with Counties Manukau."

He added: "Andy Farrell clearly led on the defence when I was with England [but] I was coaching defence not less that three weeks ago in New Zealand.

"[At] Counties Manukau my main remit was to coach defence. So I've got my own philosophy. Clearly it's been influenced by the people I've worked under as defence coaches.

"I watched Mike Ford when he was England defence coach, obviously Andy Farrell latterly, I worked with Paul Gustard in Argentina when he came with me.

"I think I understand a lot about defence but equally as I mentioned earlier on, I've got a reasonably broad range and hopefully I can influence the attacking stuff as well and also reach down a bit to some of the academy work.

"I come from a player development background, my role in England was not just head coach, [I was] head of elite player development, and I like to think I can offer Leinster something in that regard as well."

Lancaster's assistants were also shown the door by England after the World Cup and he will be able to meet up in Dublin with Farrell, now a member of Ireland's coaching staff.

At Leinster, Lancaster - whose new job title is "senior coach" - will join a backroom team consisting of Cullen plus his assistants Girvan Dempsey and John Fogarty.

"Stuart brings a wealth of experience and is a highly respected figure in world rugby. We are all looking forward to having Stuart join our team and together helping the players maximise their potential as a group," Cullen told leinsterrugby.ie.

Leinster face Glasgow in the second round of the Celtic League on Saturday, having began their campaign with a 20-8 victory over Treviso on Friday. 

Leinster have reached the final of the Celtic League nine times in its 15-year history, winning four titles.

Agence France-Presse

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