- Whoever takes over has to give the young talent coming through an opportunity
- International experience is not essential, but experience of top tier club rugby is integral
- A team manager, such as Clive Woodward, would help the structure of the overall set up
“The first thing that needs to be addressed is, whoever the coach is going to be, will he stick with the coaches that Stuart Lancaster has employed or bring in his own new coaching team?
Whether it’s a head coach or any coach, they will always have a group of trusted lieutenants whom they rely upon and I imagine that the new person won’t be any different.
One of the biggest considerations in this appointment is that the RFU must clearly define his role. Will he be a coach or a manager? I think a lot of criticism was made of Stuart Lancaster, who despite possessing the title as ‘head coach’, he wasn’t actually doing the coaching, but rather serving as the manager.
If the RFU make a decision to bring in a new manager, will he bring in his own team? Whose decision is it? Is it the RFU's or the new coach's? There are a few questions to answer before you can go too far.”
A lot has been made of Ian Ritchie's insistence on the next coach having international experience. How crucial do you think this will be?
“I don’t think one has to have international experience to be a candidate. If you've had experience with a high class Premiership side then you've had European rugby experience at the highest level, which means dealing with finals and all the pressure that brings.
I definitely think you need a coach that's handled pressure at the highest level. If that's internationals then wonderful, but there’s plenty of good quality club coaches out there that deal with just as much, if not more, pressure on a weekly basis than an international coach will deal with in those short windows he has with the players.
The right person for the job is someone who’s going to be prepared to use the young talent that England have at their disposal; someone that's prepared to bring in the right coaches for the right job and set out a plan for success for the next four years.
Would you expect the current England squad to change much under the new stewardship?
I think the squad that they picked for the Rugby World Cup was actually a very strong squad with the players available. For me, there's definitely a lack of young specialist back rowers in the squad, but I think that's because those back rowers sometimes need to be given a chance.
In our last blog post, I spoke about Brendan O’Connor, who has made an impression at Leicester after just one game. It’s early days, but someone like him should be given an opportunity.
There are also young guys such as Matt Kvesic and Luke Wallace, who need to step up and prove to the coaches that they're good enough. When they’ve done this on the club circuit, they then need to be given an opportunity on the international stage. Unless we see them and unless they're given an opportunity then we'll never know if they can cut it at that level.
If you look at the squad as a whole, there's some really exciting young talent in the ranks. However, you need some experience in your side so there are a number of guys that will certainly remain, but there are also a number of guys who will have to fight for their places.
There's plenty of competition because the Premiership is such a strong league, and I think seeing some of these younger guys and giving them an opportunity is very important leading up to 2019.
So, who would you pick to succeed Stuart Lancaster?
“I personally would pick Eddie Jones who’s done a remarkable job with the sides that he's been a part of. You might even see Steve Borthwick come back into the coaching set-up with England, having been part of the Japanese coaching staff.
One person I would like to see involved is Rob Baxter, though I’m not sure he would step away from his current role at Exeter. But I love the ethos with which he works. It's very simple; it's pure and hard work.
His Exeter team pulls together and he's created a wonderful identity in the club: No one's bigger than the team at Exeter. I'm not sure what role he'd fit into at the minute but I think he'd be a great addition to a side with Eddie Jones at the helm.
I also believe there is a position for Sir Clive Woodward. There needs to be someone who can oversee the game, whom the coach answers to. I do think we need someone who understands the game and who understands what the new coach is trying to achieve. I think someone like Clive would be ideal for that.