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What Stuart Lancaster said when asked if he would coach England again

By Liam Heagney
Stuart Lancaster (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Eight years after getting unceremoniously sacked as England boss following the Rugby World Cup, Stuart Lancaster has suggested that working with his country’s national team is something he would consider doing again in the future.

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It was in early September 2015, in the wake of a pre-tournament win over Ireland, that Lancaster declared England were capable of triumphing at the finals, but they were eliminated after playing just three of their four pool matches.

That resulted in Lancaster being replaced by Eddie Jones, but he went on to restore his reputation as a high-calibre coach following his September 2016 arrival at Leinster.

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That seven-year stint as senior coach at the Irish province ended last May with defeat in the Heineken Champions Cup final and he has now taken up a director of rugby role at Racing 92.

During his lengthy stay in Dublin, Lancaster regularly used LinkedIn to share his thoughts on leadership to his 42,000-plus followers and despite his recent move from Ireland to France, he promised to continue this sharing and has now released his first hour-long vlog from Paris.

His wide-ranging conversation included his thought process on why he took up the offer from Racing, adding that he would be open to returning to Leinster in the future if an opportunity arose. That answer led to a question about whether he would ever go back to the England national team.

“I left in different circumstances; that changes things a bit,” he began. “There is a great young group coming through. My son Dan played for the U20s and there is a brilliant age group coming through.

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“If you ask my wife, she might question my sanity if I said yes. There are probably other parts of the world I would love to coach in as well. The southern hemisphere would be a big challenge for me. I’d love to go and coach in Super Rugby in some shape, way or form or international rugby down in the southern hemisphere.

“So, you’d never say never but I think it’s not top of the list and certainly, I think Steve Borthwick will keep the job until 2027. I’m committed here (at Racing) until 2027 so let’s see.

“I don’t think you should never say never. I don’t think you should ever be so hurt or so damaged that you could never go back somewhere. If the political will is there and the time is right, I’d hate to be so hurt or angry about certain things that would stop me from doing certain things. I don’t want to be that kind of person.”

Lancaster had the chance to stay on at Leinster under Leo Cullen but he felt the time was right for him to step up to being a No1 coach again. “Deep, deep down, I was weighing up in my mind I was almost at capacity here with the job I am doing and managing the commute from Leeds to Dublin, managing family dynamics, son, daughter, wife, mum, you know, all that stuff that goes on outside of work…

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“I knew I put myself in that position, but I didn’t want to sit back at the end of my career and think what if? So, the challenge of going to the Top 14, the challenge of learning French, the challenge of an organisation like Racing and trying to improve it to the consistent quality of Leinster was too tempting to turn down in the end.

“It was a little bit of right time, right place to leave Leinster for Leinster’s development but also for my own personal development. From the (Racing) approach to me saying yes prior to any contract talk took three weeks…

“Tough decision but eventually I made it and the difficult decision then was communicating the decision to the players and staff of Leinster. I found that very difficult. That was done in September, and we cracked on. I’m in Paris now… but you never know I might come back in the future.”

In his message on LinkedIn launching the new vlog, Lancaster wrote: “Having moved to France now I mentioned in my last post if anyone was interested in following the challenges of changing roles and moving to a new country, I was going to create some form of blog with lessons learned along the way.

“I wasn’t sure initially how to do it but with the help of Feargal O’Rourke, former managing partner of PWC Ireland, we have created a ‘Leaders on Leaders’ video where Feargal and I chat about the new role and how it is all going during my second week here in Paris.

“We plan to do one a month over the first year to chart the ups and downs of leading teams and if you are interested in taking a listen, please click on the link below.”

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Turlough 3 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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