The Rugby Football Union has not exactly been renowned for thinking outside the box in recent years but there is a brave new world to be explored following the seismic upheavals of the last few weeks and yesterday the men now in charge at Twickenham made an encouraging start by naming Andy Farrell as part of England's interim back-room team for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship.
One of the true greats of British rugby league, Farrell was some way short of great over the course of a brief and frustrating playing career in the 15-man game. Yet since he turned his hand to coaching at Saracens, the reigning English champions, he has barely put a foot wrong. This was recognised yesterday when the governing body named him alongside the Twickenham insider Stuart Lancaster and the current England scrum technician Graham Rowntree in a three-man caretaker unit charged with seeing the national team through the next few weeks.
At first, the RFU wanted Farrell on a part-time basis. However, Saracens took the view that if Farrell was going to involve himself with England, he should do it body and soul. As a result, he will devote himself exclusively to red-rose affairs once the Six Nations squad gathers next month.
Lancaster was an obvious choice to head the new team: the former Leeds coach has been at the heart of Twickenham's elite department for some years, working closely with the second-string Saxons – some regular members of which, including the Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw, are certain to be named in the Six Nations squad early next month – and spending large amounts of time with the brighter elements in the age-group programme.
Rowntree, meanwhile, won plaudits for his efforts at the recent World Cup in New Zealand, which put him in a very small minority indeed. He is the only coaching survivior from the Martin Johnson regime.
"Stuart is not only an experienced coach, but his role as head of elite development puts him at the forefront of producing international players," explained Stephen Brown, the RFU's financial director and acting chief executive.
Lancaster and company have urgent work ahead of them. They must name a 32-strong Six Nations squad at the start of next month and will be expected to come up with something fresh and exciting.Reuse content