Ritchie supports Lancaster efforts

Date published: January 23 2015

Stuart Lancaster was definitely the right man for the England job according to RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.

Ahead of the Six Nations in the defining year of Lancaster’s time in charge of England, Ritchie has given his coach his unequivocal backing.

While England have been consistent during Lancaster’s reign, they are yet to win the Six Nations, having finished second in the last three tournaments.

This season they kick off in Cardiff against Wales, with a trip to Ireland coming in round three.

And with a World Cup on home soil at the end of the year, Ritchie believes Lancaster is on track and that he has shown he can cope with his responsibilities both on and off the field.

For that reason Lancaster signed a new deal through to 2019 last year, although Ritchie admits the pressure is on this season.

“The number one objective is coaching the team – absolutely his focus in terms of 2015,” he told the Telegraph.

“But again I think he’s got that bigger role. He’s also got a role about engagement with the public, engagement with the game as a whole.

“You’ve heard me talk about inter-connection. If you want to engage the country you have to have someone who deals with that.

“And he gets, I hope – and I think he believes this – a lot of support internally, because yeah, of course, he’s under some pressure.

“I spend a lot of time with him and the coaching staff. We talk about values. Not only does Stuart have that understanding and appreciation, but it’s palpably clear that this is a guy who has values.

“We could all say, ‘Yes, but it’s all about winning’. Of course it’s all about winning. But it’s also about values, and you have to say they are doing a really good job.”