Stuart Lancaster future: England head coach refuses to bow to calls for his head after Rugby World Cup exit

Lancaster appeared at a press conference this morning alongside RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie

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The Independent Online

Stuart Lancaster has reiterated his desire not to be rushed into making a rash decision over his England future after the head coach held a press conference on the morning after their shock World Cup elimination.

Lancaster accepted that he will have to consider his position after taking responsibility for arguably the biggest disappointment in English rugby history.

Speaking at England’s World Cup base in Surrey, Lancaster admitted that “all things have been considered” but stressed that a decision will not be made until well after the final match with Uruguay next weekend.

All things have been considered but not for now for me

Stuart Lancaster, England head coach

“We spoke about how gutted we are as a team and coaching team not to get the win that would have got us through to the quarter-final,” Lancaster said when sitting alongside Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie. “Looking back over the games we had a great game against Fiji, the loss against Wales hurt and Australia deserved their win.

“All things have been considered but not for now for me. It is a situation where I sat in front of the management team and said 'we have a game to play'. It is not the time for that.”

Lancaster also rued injuries to his midfield – not just during the World Cup but throughout his four-year tenure. During Lancaster’s reign, the head coach has selected 14 different centre combinations, and outside centre Jonathan Joseph was affected by a pectoral injury that saw him miss the narrow 28-25 defeat by Wales last weekend that has ultimately proved costly.

He was also quick to reiterate his praise for Wallaby No 8 David Pocock, who has fought back from two serious knee injuries to take a prominent role in the Australian back-row despite being a natural openside flanker.

“We haven't been lucky in terms of injuries to get stability in midfield,” added Lancaster. “It is fair to say in the back row that Pocock was outstanding. He would walk into any international team. When we got good field position, and inevitably he would slow the ball down or turn it over. You have to give him credit. He is an exceptional player.”

However, Lancaster rejected the idea that England wilted under the pressure of playing the World Cup, having not tasted success under his reign as head coach.

He said: “The occasion before the Fiji game was unbelievable. To come away with four tries shows we were prepared for it. Australia had 750 caps in their team and we had 450. This England team was going to have to go through evolution. I don't think it was the tournament, it was collective experience on the day.”

In a statement, Ritchie said on englandrugby.com: "I would like to stress there will be no hasty reaction to England's performance in this World Cup."

He added in the press conference: Ritchie added: "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.

"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."

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