Stuart Lancaster appointed England coach

by Staff Writer

Stuart Lancaster has been confirmed as the head coach of England following his team's successful Six Nations campaign, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Thursday.

Lancaster's appointment came after the 42-year-old saw off stiff competition from former South African and Italian coach Nick Mallett.

News of Lancaster's confirmation follows England's impressive performances in the Six Nations, in which they finished runners-up to grand slam champions Wales after winning four out of five matches.

Lancaster's contract, which runs until 2016, means he has been given the job of overseeing England's campaign when they stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

A RFU statement said: "Stuart Lancaster was today (Thursday) appointed England rugby head coach until the end of January 2016."

It added he became permanent head coach with "immediate effect" following "unanimous RFU board ratification this (Thursday) morning".

Lancaster's first series in his new full-time role will be England's three-Test tour of South Africa in June.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, said: "We have been through a rigorous and global selection process and are confident that Stuart is the right person to lead England rugby forward into the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"He has shown throughout the Six Nations and subsequently in both interview and other conversations ... that he has the skills and vision needed in the England head coach."

Lancaster added: "I am immensely honoured and proud to accept this role. From the hundreds of messages I received during the Six Nations, I know what supporting England means to millions of people and I am privileged to be involved.

"The players, coaches and the management were superb during the tournament and it's down to them that we made such positive steps from when we first met up in Leeds. The challenge now is to take this squad and the players we will see emerge forward to 2015. It is one that I can't wait to get stuck into.

"We have a massive task ahead of us in South Africa this summer and we have 37 games before that first World Cup match on home soil, so every second counts in developing players who can win that tournament - which has to be the ultimate aim."

Lancaster had taken over the job on an interim basis in December after the vastly more experienced Mallett 'opened the door' by saying he could not take up a position with England at that time because of family reasons.

Former Leeds coach Lancaster was appointed after England's disastrous World Cup campaign which led to the resignation of 2003 World Cup-winner Martin Johnson.

He was given the task of rebuilding public support for the England side after inquests into the World Cup campaign revealed a divided dressing room split by conflicting agendas.

Lancaster, who had previously been in charge of England's Saxons development squad, immediately freshened up the senior team, promoting the likes of five-eighth Owen Farrell, Saracens centre Brad Barritt and No.8 Ben Morgan while handing the captaincy to Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw.

Lancaster won the race for the top job after gaining approval from Ritchie, who was guided by an advisory panel comprising Conor O'Shea, Ian McGeechan and former English internationals Rob Andrew and Richard Hill.

Lancaster had made it clear that if he won the job full-time, he would want forwards' coach Graham Rowntree and backs' chief Andy Farrell, father of Owen, to stay on alongside him.

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