Former England boss Stuart Lancaster has reflected on his four years in charge at Test level, claiming he was fortunate his team were consistent every year in the Six Nations unlike the yo-yo fortunes being experienced by current boss Eddie Jones. 

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Whereas Lancaster’s teams always finished second in the Six Nations, winning four games out of five in each of the four campaigns he was in charge for, England have endured some erratic seasons under Jones. 

Although crowned champions in three of his six seasons in charge, England have also suffered two fifth-place finishes and there are questions marks about the longevity of Jones in the role following the most recent campaign where defeat to Ireland left them finishing with only Italy behind them on the table just five months after they clinched the 2020 title win.  

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Six Nations standouts and snapshots

Asked about the pressure that surrounds the job of an England coach, Lancaster told The Rugby Pod: “Yeah, there is definitely an expectation. When I started I got the interim job so I had less of that immediate pressure and we won four games out of five that first Six Nations. 

“But then we went to South Africa and it was very early in my tenure with a young team, we lost two narrowly and then drew the third. Then we came to the autumn internationals and we lost the first couple and had New Zealand coming around the corner so the media were building this narrative of four games, five games without a win.

“Fortunately we beat New Zealand and you got that breathing space you needed to kick on and the next Six Nations we won four out of five and kept the media at bay so to speak. I was lucky we were that close to nailing it, we won four games out of five every Six Nations so when you are at England and you’re coming second bottom, pressure will come on irrespective of what happened in the past and the team are clearly feeling that at the moment.”

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Despite getting unceremoniously tossed aside following pool stage failure at the 2015 World Cup, current senior Leinster coach Lancaster is immensely proud of his four years in charge which came on the back of a four-year stint working within the RFIU set-up.

“The irony is that if the bonus point for tries had existed I think we would have won two of those (Six Nations)… I look back with regret with what happened at the end (with the World Cup) but with a lot of pride when I see the team doing so well in 2019, the Six Nations 2016 and everything else that came with it and the younger lads who were one cap, two caps when I took over are now 60, 70, 80 caps leading the team. 

“I probably would have liked a bit more cohesion going into the World Cup. I would have had one more warm-up game, for sure. I actually met Eddie after the World Cup and one thing I said was one more warm-up game. 

“Owen Farrell was injured during the whole of the 2015 Six Nations and (it hindered the) combination between George (Ford) and Owen together, some of the younger players who I knew were going to be talented were still breaking into getting regular slots in their Premiership clubs but overall I felt we were going into it in good shape. 

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“We had a tough pool and unfortunately we lost a game (to Wales) that if you played many times over you would win it more often than you would lose it and the consequences, well we know what happened.”

Intimate gossip about his time as England coach will remain guarded, however, as Lancaster has never felt inclined to open up verbatim on his stint in charge. “I’m quite old-fashioned. A lot of things that go on inside camps, changing rooms and private meetings should remain that way. 

“I also believe in keeping my counsel. I’ll pass on the lessons learnt to the people I think it’s really important to and I have done it to coaches in private settings, I have done it to other sports. I had a call a while ago with Gareth Southgate, the England soccer team, in the lead-up to the World Cup. 

“I’d one not so long ago with England netball, England cricket. Of course, you want to pass on what you have learned. It seems illogical to me to have been at the RFU for eight years and not to pass on what I have learned to coaches. That’s illogical but I wouldn’t use the media as the platform because there is privacy about certain things I would never share anyway.”

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