Who should be England’s interim Head Coach?

Acting CEO Stuart Metcalfe has announced that by Christmas, The Man Who Would Be King will be in place to lead England through to the Six Nations, and possibly beyond. But who should it be? Below, are the three outstanding candidates:

Brian Ashton

CV: Bath, Ireland, England A, England

Unceremoniously removed from his position of Head Coach following the 2007 Rugby World Cup, that Ashton’s name has been linked with the interim position has raised a few smiles given the way Rob Andrew oversaw his departure. It’s also confusing. Ashton was blamed for England’s problems early on in the 2007 tournament, with the turnaround credited to the senior members of the squad. Despite this, Ashton remains respected by many in the game, especially at Bath, and would be a positive appointment. The combination of his open attacking style of coaching, combined with some of England’s bright young talent, is attractive.

John Kirwan

CV: NEC Green Rockets, Auckland Blues, Italy, Japan

At Twickenham a whole two days ago, unfortunately on the losing side, Kirwan voiced in the build-up to last week’s Heroes Rugby Challenge that he would be keen to guide England in the short-term. Four years coaching in Japan saw Kirwan lead the Blossoms to a Pacific Nations Cup in his final year in charge, along with drawing 23 all with Canada at the Rugby World Cup. Kirwan has stated his love of “risk and attack”, regardless of the structure at the RFU, and would as a result become England’s first foreign Head Coach.

Stuart Lancaster

CV: Leeds, England Saxons

In a sense the obvious choice given his position within the RFU, Lancaster has been working within the England set up since 2006. Two Churchill Cup victories with the England Saxons over the last two years mean that he has developed a close relationships with many of England’s young players who are now breaking into the senior side. One factor that works against Lancaster is his lack of experience at the top level. He took over at Leeds following relegation in 2006, a year to the day after they won the Powergen Cup at Twickenham, coping with the loss of Danny Care, Tom Palmer, Iain Balshaw, Gordon Bulloch and many more. Despite overseeing their promotion the following season, they were again relegated in 2008. Lancaster would be a gamble, but working alongside Graham Rowntree, what do England have to lose?

So there are your options. But who do you want to see in charge of England for the Six Nations? Vote below.

The England interim Head Coach should be...

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9 thoughts on “Who should be England’s interim Head Coach?

  1. Slightly undecided now. I think Ashton has vaguely ruled himself out (might be a negotiating ploy!). Would be happy with Kirwan as long as Lancaster was in the set up as well as he knows the players. If its either/or, it has to be Lancaster in my mind. Kirwan hasn’t got enough time to get to know the players.

  2. Does anyone think that the interim coach will have a shot at the full-time role? I’d like to think that if any of these candidates had a great Six Nations and started putting the right environment together, then they ought to be considered longer term.

    Given the RFU’s actions over the past few years though, they probably don’t care who the interim coach is, because they’re gunning for Nick Mallett regardless.

  3. I think Lancaster and Rowntree make a good pair although I might make Rowntree the acting head coach based on his greater experience with the 1st team and higher level of respect from the players. Whoever is interim should definitely be considered. No-one thought Richard Cockerill would make it as a full-time head coach but in two stints as acting head coach proved that he had the qualities to do the job.

  4. Eddie O’Sullivan….. he’s put his hand up, and in the past he has navigated his way around a dysfunctional administration and comes out on top when there is infighting to be done…. just what this job needs! Being a top flight Rugby coach is beside the point right now.

    1. From what I’ve heard though Eddie is/was a big part of the in fighting. if the stories are true the Machiavelli himself would have been proud of Eddie’s manoeuvres in securing the Ireland job at the expense of Gatland. Would you really want more of that crap going on at RFU?

  5. I think there are problems with all of them. Ashton is the best bet but if I was him I wouldn’t have the remotest interest having been treated as he was. I don’t really see what Kirwan’s credentials are for the job, or Lancaster’s for that matter. The latter would be fine if we just want someone to tick everything along and not to rock the boat.

    It’s going to be a weird 6 Nations, I hope the players and RFU don’t use the situation with the coach as an excuse for half-baked performances but I rather fear they will.

    1. In 2008, after a disastrous world cup, Ruddockgate and a whole load of shite Wales won a Grand Slam…

      In 2005, after playing like muppets for some time, and the whole Johnson/Hansen fuss over who should be in charge, followed by the whole fuss over the political shenanigans to get Ruddock the job (ahead of “people’s choice” Gypo), Wales won their other Grand Slam this century…


      1. Interesting comparison. I remember that I used to laugh at Wales’ famous infighting. To all the Welsh people I know and don’t know – how does it feel to be laughing last and louder!

  6. For me Stuart Lancaster is the obvious and best choice. Mainly because he knows the current crop of players, and the younger guys who should be in the squad. Having done such a good job with the Saxons, he should get the interim job, and also a shot at the permanent role if we have a good six nations. The question is what is happening with Ford, Wells and Alred? Whoever takes over as interim coach should stipulate that those three are nowhere near the team.

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