- Stuart Lancaster’s reviews his tournament in RBS 6 Nations review part one
- "It sounds like a bit of cliché, but I’ll take away fantastic memories" – Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster has been open and honest throughout his time leading England and therefore it is only fair to measure his tenure against the aims he set out on taking the role as Interim Head Coach on December 8.
Broadly speaking, the 42-year-old told RFU.com he intended to win games in the short term and impart the requisite experience into the players earmarked for Rugby World Cup 2015, while establishing a culture of selfless hard work and humility in the group.
Results are all important in Lancaster’s line of business and he is delighted with the score lines on the pitch after four wins from five and a historic three away wins in Scotland, Italy and France.
He said: "I’m delighted with the outcome, with that outcome being results.
"We obviously didn’t get over the line against Wales but to get the others we’re really pleased. But I still think there is a lot more we can do to improve. The overriding emotion is that we’ve made great strides but it would be great to make some more.
"But if you said to me at the outset, in terms of the process of building a team and getting to where we are, I‘d say ‘great’ and take it."
Photo: Getty Images
Lancaster has projected England could have a side with 663 caps for 2015 and building from a team of 132 caps against Ireland, first starts have been handed this tournament to Brad Barritt, Mouritz Botha, Lee Dickson, Phil Dowson, Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan, Geoff Parling and Charlie Sharples.
Another key tenet of the former teacher’s leadership has been establishing a team culture that helps the team achieve their potential and consequently allows the players to connect with the wider English public.
Lancaster pinpoints the decision to move the pre-tournament training camp to Leeds – firm evidence of his willingness to take another path – as the cornerstone of establishing the environment they have thrived on.
"Planning, foresight and thinking it through have allowed the team to grow on the back of that," he said. "And trying to not be reactive – in the heat of the Six Nations it is easy to deal with the day-to-day stuff but it’s important to keep moving forward.
"Back in December when I took the role, I already knew I wanted to have the camp in another place.
"I remember having some question marks raised about that from all-sorts of quarters but I was strong in my belief that it was what we needed to do and point the team in the right direction.
"Leeds was the start point, you only get one chance to make a first impression and the players arrived like it was a first day at school and they didn’t know what to expect. They resonated with what we wanted to achieve and bought into it."
Photo: Getty Images
Lancaster describes Leeds as the foundation England have built from and says it was the start of series of memories which will live with him forever, regardless of the outcome of the permanent head coach recruitment process.
Lancaster, whose interim contract expires on March 31, described what he will take away from the last eight weeks: "It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but memories.
"Whether it was coming back on the bus from France, singing songs, celebrating with the players at the end of the Ireland game walking round Twickenham or in France with 15,000 people.
"The supporters’ night we did in Italy the night before the game was brilliant – I could name 50 memories all of which you could say were special.
"It’s been fantastic, that’s the overriding thing I’ll take away. We’ll see what happens next but hopefully there’s more to come."