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Danny Care and his 'big kind of annoyance' with Stuart Lancaster

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care has shed light on his bumpy relationship with Stuart Lancaster, explaining his frustrations over team selection with the former England boss during his 2012 to 2015 stint in charge. The 35-year-old half-back earned the first of his 84 Test caps when chosen by Martin Johnson in 2008, but he went on to endure setbacks after Lancaster took over four years later.


Care and Lancaster had previously worked with each other during their time at Leeds in the mid-noughties, but that rapport wasn’t of much assistance for the No9 when it came to making an impression under Lancaster at Test level. It was 2012 when they first had words and that frustration re-emerged at the 2015 World Cup where the only game time Care had was in the dead rubber pool match versus Uruguay after England had already been eliminated from the tournament.

Last capped under Eddie Jones in 2018, Care touched on his stint with Lancaster’s England in an in-depth interview in the latest edition of Rugby Journal. He started by recalling 2012, a time when he was a Premiership title winner with Harlequins but was behind Ben Youngs and Lee Dickson in the Test team pecking order for that summer’s tour to South Africa.

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Addressing his at times rocky relationship with Lancaster, Care explained: “If I believe in something I really struggle to stay quiet and after one training session I said to Stuart, ‘Are you telling me these two are playing better than me? You can’t tell me that Dickson deserves to play ahead of me?'”

Having watched Youngs start and Dickson provide bench cover in the opening two tour defeats, Care was eventually chosen to start the drawn third Test versus the Springboks. However, there was no satisfying reprieve three years later at the World Cup when he found himself behind Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth in the squad.

“My big kind of annoyance with that was Wiggy was really good mates with (assistant coach) Andy Farrell. They were mates and went on holiday together and I remember the first two selections for Fiji and Wales and he [Lancaster] said: ‘Yeah, Faz wants to pick Wiggy’ and my response was, ‘Who is the head coach?'”

Bridges were mended a year later between the paid during a chance encounter at a Dubai hotel. “I was like, ‘Right, I’m going to speak with him. I don’t need to have bad blood with anyone’. We made friends again and I saw him not long ago when we were playing Leinster and we are alright now, but it was kind of a weird relationship we had in the past.”


Care has since gone on to win a second Premiership title with Harlequins while Lancaster is into his sixth season as a senior coach at Leo Cullen’s Leinster.


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