John Kirwan turned down by RFU for England job

John Kirwan backed Nick Mallett to take the England head coaching job this summer, after revealing that the headhunting firm in charge of the recruitment process, Odgers Berndston, had informed the former Italy and Japan coach that he would not be forwarded to the interview stage due to the fact that he had not coached a leading nation. The two candidates apparently available matching that criteria are Mallett, and former Ireland and USA coach Eddie O’Sullivan.

Despite only two months in the job, Stuart Lancaster has also made it further than Kirwan to the interview stage. “They (Odgers) contacted me saying I wouldn’t go on to the next stage because they had a couple of other candidates that had more international experience than me,” Kirwan said. “They were looking for someone with a higher international profile. I understand that. They started out with something in mind and they are heading down that track.”

“I think Nick Mallett would be perfect for it. Nick is the ideal mix. He is highly intelligent, he understands what a team needs to win and he gets the best out of players. It will be a high-pressure situation (coaching England) into a home World Cup (in 2015). I think Nick would be a great candidate for the job.”

Despite his 17 match unbeaten run with South Africa, Mallett has also spent time coaching Italy with a similar amount of little success as Kirwan had before him, despite beating France in last year’s Six Nations. Given that Mallett’s success with his home country was over 10 years ago (from 1997-2000), there is a strong argument that his time has been and gone.

What do you make of the RFU’s decision to not even interview Kirwan given the list of candidates? Are Mallett, Lancaster and O’Sullivan good enough?

22 thoughts on “John Kirwan turned down by RFU for England job

  1. What the hell is Eddie O’Sullivan doing in the mix? The bloke is worse than Johnson. What did he achieve with Ireland other than a few triple crowns? Stick with Lancaster if Mallett isn’t going to get it.

  2. Its all gearing up to be Nick Mallet’s job. It has been since the world cup.

    Regardless of who gets the job, the intriguing part will be who is appointed to the coaching roles?

    1. Was informed by some South African journalists who spoke to Mallett yesterday that he was interested and was waiting for an interview.

      1. I really hope so. Not because I think Mallett should necessarily get the job, but because whoever is chosen should not get it by default but because they were the best candidate.

  3. Still feels to me like they are set on Mallett. I’d prefer to see Lancaster given a longer spell to prove himself. Why can’t they give him longer? Also, it’s difficult to judge SL on the 6N alone, with the makeshift coaching team he has. I’m guessing that Mallett would want to add a more extensive and expensive coaching team, and it’s a bit harsh to judge our 6N performances with the lack of a proven attacking coach, for example.

  4. Full credit to Lancaster for stepping up and taking his opportunity. Regardless of what happens in next couple of games I wouldn’t appoint him as head coach though!!

    Inexperience is OK if you have the aptitude, the attitude and someone experienced to learn from. Lancaster has the second, is not yet really tested on the first and the third is nowhere to be seen. It is Mallet hands down for me, part of Mallet’s mandate has to be to groom a successor, with a strong preference for Lancaster if Mallet is happy with this choice.

    We are on the back of a poorly calculated and poorly mitigated risk with Johnson. It would be very frustrating in 2 years to find that Lancaster had fixed the basics with England being a tough, disciplined, gritty team that are difficult to beat but lacked the intellect, innovation and creativity to challenge the best in the world. This is, in my opinion, the most likely outcome and therefore not worth the risk.

    Putting it another way if you had to list the 5 best coaches in world rugby (available or not) how high would Lancaster be on that list? Would you consider him top 10? If the NZ head coach job become available would Lancaster be considered a potential candidate? If the answer to all 3 is “no” then is he the man to coach the biggest rugby nation on the planet?

    I want an appointment that is a statement of intent “We will go into the 2015 as the team to beat having beaten all of the top ranked teams in the last 12 months”

    Bottom line is we need a top tier coach to get us back to being a top tier team, not a punt on someone who may work out but also may not. Keep Lancaster in the set up if possible he can be part of the solution, he has demonstrated he can solve some of our woes.

  5. So unproven potential versus been there done it but may be past it then. Not a ringing endorsement of the job then!

    1. I can see why Mallinder didn’t bother to apply. Who were the 7 candidates put to the panel?

  6. I know some of this is guess work – but do they really see O’Sullivan as a better candidate than Kirwan. Would rather have a coach who overachieved with a poor side than one who underachieved (big time) with a good (great?) side.

    Seriously if EOS gets the job it will the duty of every England fan to have the entire RFU taken out.

    I also don’t understand how experience is cited as essential criteria, yet Sl is allowed to proceed? Seems very confused and I’m really getting worried.

  7. Why can’t Lancaster work under Mallet? Then we’ll have a ready made replacement post 2015 with no big circus around a transition.

  8. This is just another RFU joke.
    1 Who are Odgers Berndston and why are the RFU paying big bucks to them for something that is pretty simple? There are not a huge number of relevant candidates for the job so why are the RFU wasting time and money when they could easily place advertisements in relevant publications etc? PC? Can somebody explain to us mere mortals what qualifications and experience OB have in selecting/recommending an individual for the post of England coach?
    2 John Kirwan has allegedly not made it any further because of his lack of experience/coaching a leading Nation. Laughable absolutely laughable. Mallett spent the last two years bringing Italy from nowhere to zero so what kind of record of recent success does he bring to the party?
    3 If John Kirwan does not make it any further why has Stuart Lancaster apparently made the second stage? If experience of coaching a leading Nation is one of the criteria for advancing then Lancaster should not even make it to the first stage. Double standards from a highly paid firm with massive experience of finding International rugby coaches
    4 I have absolutely nothing whatever against Nick Mallett but if Lancaster does not get the job it will be a travesty. Give it to somebody who has got the enthusiasm and commitment to take England on to better things. I believe that Lancaster has those qualities and should be given the chance to take things further.

    1. I think Mallett has the passion, he failed to hold back the tears when Italy beat France! I clearly meant a lot.

      Simple question is Lancaster one of the best 5 coaches in world rugby at the present? We shouldnt be recruiting lower down the world pecking order than that for what is arguably the biggest coaching job in world rugby. I could do the job with enthusiasm and commitment, I wouldnt be very good though. Johnson had passion in spades. If Lancaster gets the job it must be because the RFU think he is a world class coach, not just that he will try really hard.

      He is still a young coach and having him continue under the next head coach would allow him to build his experience and allow him to be assessed as a future head coach.

      I’m 100% with you the need for a headhunter, it’s not like anyone qualified is unaware of the vacancy! It tells me the RFU are actually seeking help on the selection process, sorting out evaluation criteria etc. Worrying if RFU don’t have a clear vision (more likely lack of a unified vision) of what the next coach should bring and you have to pay someone to help you decide.

  9. I am not sure I go with this you need the experience syndrom before you can get the England job.Take Kidney Gatland and St Andre. I

  10. Sorry -pressed wrong button!! Anyway taking these 3 guys I am pretty sure none of them had experience of International coaching but were still considered good enough to be appointed by the respective Unions. On the other side of the coin Andy Robinson did have International experience but has not really set Scotland alight even though I think he has done a great job. As for Martin Johnson-none at all. Whilst experience is of course a big asset it is not the sole criteria for making the appointment.
    We could all argue about the various candidates and their strenghs/weaknesses until the cows come home but I feel that Lancaster has shown enough commitment at a very early stage to be given the job full time

    1. Every coach has to take a first internaional job. Gatland was coach of Ireland before he became Welsh coach though….

      I think, even as a fan looking in, you can see whether someone has what it takes to potentially make a success of a job. Mallett I believe has that while O’Sullivan and Kirwan both stand out as people I don’t believe could ever take England to where they want to be (and let’s be honest that is World Cup winners 2015).

      Can Lancaster do it? Not convinced.
      Can anyone? Not convinced.

      It’s a coinflip between Lancaster with his enthusiasm and Englishness or Mallett with his experience and reputation. I like what Lancaster has done so far I must admit.

    2. – Kidney had won 2 Heineken cups.
      – Gatland, following his spell with Ireland, turned Wasps into the dominant European club of the early naughties.
      – Saint-Andre also won European honours with Sale and took them to a premiership final and has been a Director of rugby at top clubs for over a decade. I don’t think he is a fantastic coach though, his club success seems to be more based on bringing in gallacticos rather than developing talent. Also French appointed Leivremont so aren’t role models in this respect.

      All 3 have much stronger resumes than Lancaster. Lancaster has won nothing of note (yet) and has not even been part of a coaching team that has, he has not learnt his craft yet.

      I’m not anti-Lancaster, I like what he has done. Even if fixing discipline and introducing collective work ethic just demonstrate how desperate things had got. He could be the answer for 2019, but for now we need a balance and that has to contain, in my opinion, experience of coaching/winning at the highest level. A master and an apprentice, I would argue it would be good for Lancaster’s career longevity to have the opportunity to be an understudy to a world leading coach. Otherwise he will end up like Johnson, recruited without the experience, no one to learn from around him and can go nowhere in the game if he falls short. Johnson could have been a great coach, Tigers forward coach, Tigers director of rugby, England forward coach, as an example path would have left him far better prepared to do the top job.

      If he does get the top job then lets please hire someone like Graham Henry as a consultant/mentor (part time) to help him master his craft and not leave him high and dry like Johnson.

  11. Interesting article. Personally I would definitely rather have Kirwan than O’Sullivan. What has O’Sullivan done to prove himself. Coached Ireland for too long, and never really progressed the team. And are USA better than Italy?

    Is Mallett any likely to do a better job than Lancaster? I think only their club coaches know these current England players better than Lancaster. He has seen a lot of these players come through the Saxons, and has a very good relationship, and understanding with them. That is something I don’t think Mallett wil ever have.

  12. To me this appointment is all about the 2015 World Cup. Short termism is not an issue and it will not be a disaster to lose some games along the way.We have 3 years to get it right and the first decision is the choice of coach.I am not sold on this experience requirement as current National coaches and England candidates have varying degrees of history and there is no clear cut evidence that experience does produce the best coach and results.
    If we take it that England are back in the basement the curve(hopefully!!) is up.One factor required to achieve long term success must be consistencyand that starts with the players and coaching support/back up. It appears that Lancaster has the confidence of the players and that must be a foundation to build on in the future. Through his time with the Saxons he will know all about the potential new talent coming along so I believe he has the background to take the England job. At the moment we are short of key playing positions (World Cup showed that) so maybe time will produce some fresh blood. If we haven’t got the talent no coach will produce a World Cup.
    Finally I think the suggestion from Matt to have a mentor such as Graham Henry is excellent. This man is top of the tree and has the respect of everyone.I seem to remember him saying he would be interested in a consultancy/part time position so his inclusion would be nothing but positive. Lancaster as coach and Henry in the background would be the ideal solution.

  13. I’m not sure that any coach/manager can win a RWC without the players. However the best coaches give their players the edge in self belief, tactics, etc and therefore help them perform better than the collection of individuals that they might otherwise be. Lancaster clearly has some of the skills necessary but not convinced that he has all of them. The experience with tactics would appear to be a work in progress. Mallett does seem to have achieved all this in the past. Therefore on balance I think that Mallett might seem the best choice for now but I would insist on Lancaster being involved in the set up as heir apparent as with more experience, he could be a great future England coach. He’s good already IMO.

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