Mallinder latest to rule out England job

by staff

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder on Thursday ruled himself out of the running to become the next permanent England coach.

Mallinder had been touted as a replacement for Martin Johnson, who resigned after a wretched World Cup in New Zealand where a failure to make the semi-finals was compounded by several embarrassing off-field incidents involving England players.

Former England reserve coach Stuart Lancaster was put in temporary charge for the Six Nations.

Although Mallinder, whose Northampton side were beaten European Cup finalists last season, was considered one of the leading English contenders for the post, he said now was not the time for him to coach England.

"No, I've not applied," Mallinder told the BBC. "It's probably the best job in the world coaching-wise. What a great opportunity. But it's got to be the right thing at the right time."

Mallinder's comments came a day after the deadline for applications to become England coach closed.

He was the second high-profile figure to rule himself out of the running after former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith, himself previously in charge of English Premiership club Northampton, said he was no longer interested.

Smith told Wellington's Dominion Post newspaper the job description he had been supplied with was "waffly and looked like it was for the head of a PR company, rather than a rugby coach".

But the former All Black playmaker also said the timing involved in the job, which is scheduled to begin with England's tour of South Africa in June, clashed with his new role as assistant coach of Super Rugby club the Waikato Chiefs.

Former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett remains a leading contender to take up the job permanently, having previously turned down an approach from the RFU for family reasons.

"You can never rule yourself out of a job like this," said Mallett in November. "The family situation might have changed. I'd never count it out because it's one of the top five coaching jobs in the world."

England won their first two matches under Lancaster, away to both Scotland (13-6) and Italy (19-15).

But they managed just one try in each of those games, both charge-down scores by Charlie Hodgson, against two of the weakest sides in the tournament.

England's next Six Nations match is against unbeaten table-toppers and World Cup semi-finalists Wales at Twickenham on February 25.