Ritchie : RFU won’t make “hasty reaction” on Lancaster future

Stuart Lancaster,(L) the England head coach, faces the media with RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie

England rugby chiefs have insisted that there would be no “hasty reaction” in terms of Stuart Lancaster’s coaching future after the Rugby World Cup hosts were eliminated by Australia.

England were beaten 13-33 at Twickenham by Australia and have become the first host nation not to qualify for the knock out stages of the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup hosts England had the tournament’s most difficult pool in world cup history as at the start of the tournament the teams ranked ranked two, four and five were all in one pool.

The loss to Australia and last week’s agonising 28-25 ‘Pool of Death’ loss to Wales meant England’s tournament fate has been decided.

England’s defeat by Australia has led to intense speculation over the future of Lancaster and his assistants, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell.

Questions have also been posed regarding Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of England’s governing Rugby Football Union.

Last year Ritchie authorised the controversial decision to extend Lancaster’s contract to 2020 — beyond the next World Cup in Japan — rather than wait to see how things worked out at this tournament.

“I would like to stress there will be no hasty reaction to England’s performance in this World Cup.” said Ritchie in a statement on the England Rugby site.

England — backed by the world’s wealthiest union and with one of the largest playing bases in the global game — have finished second in all four of Lancaster’s Six Nations campaigns.

That led to a stinging rebuke from Ritchie, who earlier this year said: “I don’t think that is acceptable at all.

“We should be, as a country, winning more, in terms of whether it’s Grand Slams or Six Nations Championships.”

But he was in a far more conciliatory mood on Sunday, saying: “Both as RFU chief executive and as a lifetime supporter of the England team I speak for so many by saying how disappointed we are at the losses to Wales and Australia, where hopes were so high that we could achieve something special.

“I would like to stress, however, that there will be no hasty reaction to England’s performance in this Rugby World Cup.

“Lessons will be learnt from the results and they will be found in a calm, clear, rational and thorough manner in the fullness of time post tournament.

“Developing professional teams capable of securing international success has always been, and continues to be, a key imperative in the RFU’s Strategic Plan.

“In the short term, however, the England team has a game to prepare for against Uruguay and everyone will give them their full support,” added Ritchie ahead of what will now be England’s last Pool A match, a ‘meaningless’ fixture against minnows Uruguay in Manchester this coming Saturday.

In the meantime Ritchie, played up the role of the RFU in “delivering the most inspiring and successful World Cup ever,” insisting it could help grow rugby union in its birthplace despite England’s group-stage exit.

“This is set to be the biggest world tournament to date, over a million people have so far seen games live, and I have no doubt that our investment of time and resources in creating a lasting legacy will see a step change in rugby enjoyment and participation across the country,” said Ritchie.

Meanwhile RFU chairman and ex-England captain Bill Beaumont said the players would be more disappointed than anyone else at being knocked out so soon from a World Cup on home soil.

“This is a group of young men who care deeply about representing their nation and their fans,” said Beaumont, the captain of the 1980 England side that won a Grand Slam in the then Five Nations.

“Nobody will be hurting more than they are and, while they will expect an inevitable reaction, knowing that the rugby family is still there for them will really matter.”

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