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Lancaster responds to Leicester Tigers rumours

By Nathaniel Cope
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Former England head coach Stuart Lancaster has spoken for the first time about rumours linking him to the Leicester Tigers.


Matt O’Connor was sacked by the East Midlands club following a humiliating 40-6 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on the opening weekend of the Gallagher Premiership.

Since then Geordan Murphy, who has won 8 Premiership titles win the club, has been appointed interim head coach and led them to a 49-33 win over Newcastle Falcons at the weekend.

But as far as Lancaster is concerned there is no job available at the Tigers.

“My understanding is that Geordan Murphy has been appointed not just interim coach, he has been appointed the coach for the season so…”

Although Murphy officially remains as the interim head coach, Lancaster’s take on the situation appears to back up Leicester chief executive Simon Cohen’s stance on Murphy.

“There is no intention, unless the wheels completely fall off, to make any further changes. Every opportunity will be given to Geordan to make the most of the role.” Cohen told the BBC last week.


Lancaster has been associated with several Premiership jobs over the last 12 months, including Northampton and Harlequins. He was also linked with Leicester when Richard Cockerill was sacked in January last year. His stock has risen following a hugely successful spell at Leinster where he acts as a senior coach under Leo Cullen. The Irish side picked up the Champions Cup and PRO14 double last season.

Meanwhile Lancaster has given his thoughts on the premature retirement of former Leinster backrow Dominic Ryan.

The 28-year-old, who joined Leicester at the beginning of last season, failed to recover from concussion.

“Obviously it is a terrible shame for him. I only coached him for a year and I actually thought for him given the number of quality back rows here it was a really good move for him, because he is a quality player.” Lancaster said.


“To go to Leicester seemed – and we actually spoke about it – seemed like a good move and it is a real shame that he has not been able to fulfil his undoubted potential as a player and the opportunities that England would provide him.”

There was criticism over Leicester’s handling of Ryan, who didn’t subject him to a HIA assessment following a collision with George North’s elbow during the East Midlands derby with Northampton. The incident happened in the 52nd minute of match and Ryan finished the game.

Two weeks later Ryan failed a HIA after a “gentle tap” by teammate Tom Youngs during a match against Harlequins.

A 12 week break followed, with Ryan’s appearance against Castres in January proving to be his last, complaining of dizziness afterwards.

Geordan Murphy defended the club over the weekend, while Leinster and Ireland number 8 Jack Conan also pointed the difficulties of detecting concussion.

“It’s upsetting to see someone like him having to step away from the game at such a young age in the manner that he did. Concussion is a hot topic, at the moment, within rugby circles.

“I know where we are in Leinster rugby, the medical staff the physios are so on the ball with regards to the HIA and the return to play protocols, sometimes concussions can go unnoticed, not through anyone’s fault. These things happen.

“Sometimes concussions can go unnoticed, not through anyone’s fault, not through a staff or player’s fault, but these things happen.

“I think the onus is on players to put their hand up more and be able to say ‘look, I’ve taken a knock here. I’m not okay here.’ And we’ll keep growing and working on that aspect and be better at it.”

But asked how difficult it was for players to put their hands up when potentially concussed Conan added “I think that’s the moment when the decision needs to be taken out of your hands. It needs the assistant doctor or the independent doctor on the day to spot that and say: ‘I think he’s taken a knock. We’ll just assess him’.”

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