Lancaster talks future, Burgess and RWC pain

Date published: April 10 2016

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has opened up on his World Cup agony and his plans for the future in a revealing interview with BBC 5 Live on Sunday.

Lancaster departed following England's exit from the tournament last year and was replaced by Eddie Jones.

In the aftermath of England's win over Uruguay, Lancaster explained how he did his best to get away from the spotlight.

"You think about it every minute of most days, or every day really. A lot of things have happened since then but equally it's still very fresh in my mind," Lancaster told BBC 5 Live.

"It's been a tough six months.

"The first thing I did after the Uruguay game was come back to Leeds but then very quickly get back to Cumbria to see my mum and dad because they're the ones who feel the pain more so than anyone.

"Probably only Mum can describe the pain that she feels when someone's criticising her son. It reassured them when they saw me that I was still the same person and I was fine in myself – as far as you can be fine in yourself at that point.

"And they took their caravan to Lorton and I sat in a caravan in Lorton and walked up fells in the Lake District.

"You're physically getting away but you're not really going anywhere. I walked up St Bees Head where I went to school and right at the top I bumped into this bloke and he said, 'You're Stuart Lancaster, aren't you?'."

Lancaster watched on as Jones guided England to the elusive Grand Slam title he tried so hard to win during his time in charge, with England finishing second in the Six Nations four years in a row with Lancaster at the helm.

Jones was quick to pay tribute to the work done by Lancaster in blooding several new caps throughout his time in charge, and the former head coach feels that England are now set for success moving forward.

"I'm delighted for the players, the management and the coaches that we got the grand slam because the upset of the World Cup was fresh in everyone's mind," Lancaster said.

"You'd want to still be doing the job ultimately but I do feel hopefully it's been passed on in a good shape and with good, talented players coming through and Eddie has done a brilliant job in moulding them and getting the best out of them in the Six Nations.

"The plan always was to create the team and allow it to develop experience along the way.

"I would hope with the average age now of about 24, and I think Eddie had 550 caps in his starting team, that's going to be up to 700, 800, 900 with the same group of players by 2019. We won't be in the situation whereby we're umming and ahhing about who our 30-man World Cup squad is – it'll be clear and obvious.

"We went through that period of transition and we won't have to go through it again. Ireland are having to go through it now, New Zealand are having to go through it, South Africa will have to go through it. I think we're well set now for the next four years."

Next for Lancaster however is a return to coaching, acknowledging the lure of working in Super Rugby as a "tremendous challenge", and he insists his fire to keep coaching is far from dwindling.

"I want to coach again, and the lure of coaching Super Rugby and wanting to coach in the Southern Hemisphere is a big one for me," he said.

"You can't create opportunities and you certainly can't create yourself a job but the Southern Hemisphere would be a tremendous challenge from a personal point of view and it would be a great, great opportunity.

"But we'll see – the Premiership, player development, wherever. I'm open-minded at the moment.

"You need a new project to get your teeth stuck into because if not you're always dwelling on the old one. I don't feel so burnt by the whole experience that I never want to coach again.

"I'm 46, I've hopefully got a long career in front of me. Hopefully something will come around the corner soon."

Lancaster also admitted that his thinking over the selection of Sam Burgess for England's World Cup squad, one major criticism of his final few months in charge, might have changed had he known the player would return to rugby league in Australia so swiftly.

"I don't think there was any winner in the end," he explained.

"If I'd known he was going to go back to rugby league then my decisions would have been different. But we didn't know that at the time.

"He was a great and positive influence in the group. He worked hard and earned the right in our minds to be in the World Cup squad. It's a shame the whole thing played out the way it did."