- Stuart Lancaster reviews his first three games at the helm
- Interim Head Coach says England are progressing session by session
Stuart Lancaster believes England have evolved as a team through their opening three games of 2012 and, crucially, as he tried to engender confidence in his young side, that those improvements can be evidenced to the players.
After a training week in Loughborough – and with no international fixture at the weekend – there was a natural opportunity to take stock and make an assessment of where the team are in their development.
Although England suffered a narrow defeat to Triple Crown winning Wales in the last fixture, it must be remembered that seven of the side were making their first start at Twickenham and the Interim Head Coach says a key part of their analysis is to reinforce individual and collective progress.
Discussing improved width, depth and options in attack and consistent adherence to systems in defence, the 42-year-old said: "I think people underestimate how much we show the players in terms of their progression from training session to training session.
"Every training session is recorded and I will clip it, review and show the players the following morning to say ‘look at the progress we’re making here, this is what we need to work on’. You have a cycle of play, review, learn and move on on a daily basis and the game becomes a bigger extension of that under a bit more pressure.
"That’s why we play as many games in training as possible to give them that understanding."
Photo: Getty Images
It is often said that sports teams learn more about themselves in defeats than victories but Lancaster does not subscribe to that view. And the fact that the creditable loss to Wales still hurts is an indication of the passion he brings to the job.
Lancaster, who will be interviewed for the permanent role by new RFU CEO Ian Ritchie, said: "The feeling of losing still hasn’t gone away really – I think a lot of the players are not very good losers and I don’t think the coaching team are either.
"But failure is part of it [sport] and sometimes you fail but you’ve got to learn. The trick is that when you lose, take the lessons, learn quickly and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again.
"There were some tough lessons from the weekend but when you look back at it in the cold light of day and take the positives, there is plenty to build on."
Photo: Getty Images
Much of the talk in the opening days of Lancaster’s tenure focussed on the importance of a culture of humility and selfless hard-work from a group of players who were proud to play for the country and each other.
And while he feels the players have wholly bought into what he is trying to achieve, Lancaster’s says his positive interactions with the public are a useful tool to further remind the players of who and what they are playing for.
"I don’t think there are any pretensions in this squad," he added. "I got lots of e-mails after the game from people from grassroots rugby who enjoyed the game, felt part of it and thought Twickenham was a fantastic atmosphere.
"And I give those messages to the players because that then reinforces the fact that what the players are doing is connecting the team with the country – and that is massive."