NEW Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie insists he is in no hurry to appoint a new England head coach but would like the new man to be in place in time to lead the team to South Africa in June.
Ritchie confirmed last week that interim coach Stuart Lancaster would be interviewed for the permanent post before the end of the RBS Six Nations Championship on 17 March. Nick Mallett and Eddie O’Sullivan are thought to be the other names in the frame to succeed Martin Johnson, and Ritchie’s priority is getting the right man for the job.
He also stated last week that he expected the new coach to have been named by the end of this month. “Timetable-wise I would hope, believe, we should be in a situation to do it [make an appointment] by the end, towards the end, of the Six Nations,” he was quoted as saying – but yesterday the timetable changed.
He told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “There’s no magic date that we have to appoint anybody by. What I’ve said is that, in an ideal world, and I stress even that, we would like to have someone in place to coach on the tour to South Africa in the summer. The date is not the be all and end all. By far the most important thing is to get the right candidate, the right person. But I certainly want to move forward on it as quickly as we can.”
Lancaster has made an encouraging start to life in the job, beating Scotland and Italy and losing narrowly to Wales, but Ritchie stressed he would not be judged purely by results. “Comments being made about if he wins three he gets the job, if he loses three he doesn’t, I think are rather simplistic,” added the former Wimbledon chief executive.
“What you have to do is try to make the best assessment you can overall. We have a timetable, Stuart was appointed to be the interim head coach for the Six Nations Championships, he’s very well aware of that, and I think he’s doing a good job in putting his best foot forward.”
Meanwhile, England half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs impressed for Leicester as the Tigers crushed Aviva Premiership play-off rivals Gloucester 36-3 at Welford Road yesterday.
Flood and Youngs currently fill bench roles for England in the RBS Six Nations, but they ran the show behind an imperious Leicester pack. Scrum-half Youngs scored one try and helped create two others, while Flood booted 11 points and kept Gloucester on the back foot through his masterly tactical kicking.