- Stuart Lancaster looks ahead to RWC 2015 with three years to go
- Head Coach on Olympic spirit and taking every chance
September 18 marks three years until the next major sport event in England, Rugby World Cup 2015, and Stuart Lancaster is adamant no time can be squandered as he builds a team to challenge for glory on home soil.
The England Head Coach has been a keen admirer of Great Britain’s golden summer of sport in 2012 and appreciates the value in having a whole country supporting their national team, with the correlated positive impact it can have on performances.
But using the conduct of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes as an example, Lancaster pointed out that respect must be earned by actions on and off the field and cannot be taken as a given.
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While admitting the thought of a packed Twickenham for a world cup game sends tingles down his spine, Lancaster said: “It’s a lot easier and more effective to have the country behind you than pulling against you. I think the way in which the athletes conducted themselves engaged with the crowd.
“The crowd got behind the fact that the athletes had clearly prepared well and peaked at the right time, and also were committed and humble in victory and defeat.
“They are things I’ve got the players to understand and from a rugby point of view we’re on that journey as well. We want to make sure we maintain our momentum – we’ve got seven home internationals this season, four QBE internationals and three Six Nations games, and having Twickenham Stadium full and supporting us will be huge.”
Photo: Getty Images
England will play 34 Test matches before the showpiece tournament and as Lancaster highlighted, play seven home internationals in 2012/13, the most in any campaign pre-2015.
In the period before the world cup England will also take in tours to Argentina in 2013 and New Zealand in 2014, which will be illuminating measures of progress as Lancaster imparts the experience into his players that will help them be successful on home soil.
But the 42-year-old is aware that the immediate issue of winning Test matches is vitally important in building momentum, making Twickenham a fortress and for the Rugby World Cup 2015 seeding, which is drawn after this autumn’s QBE Internationals.
England play the only teams above them in the world rankings – Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – on successive weekends this November/December and Lancaster added: “There’s a here-and-now you need to deal with, but you need to both keep your eye on the near future and look ahead to the far future, the tournament three years away.
“We always talk about it but equally we don’t want to overplay it too soon, there’s plenty of time to go. During the Six Nations the crowd really got behind the team and it made a huge difference. The players respect that, understand that and want to give them something to shout about. If you get that connection right, you’ve got a strong chance of success and we should make Twickenham a difficult place for sides to come and hopefully that will start in the autumn.
“The reality is, if you’re going to win the world cup, it doesn’t matter whether you are seeded first, second, third or fourth, or fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth, you’re going to have to beat good teams to win it. We clearly want to get better and improve our seeding, but the main driver is focussing on the quality of performances and believing that if you get that right, the result will take care of itself and the seeding will do also.”