Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lancaster the Perfect Fit for England's Quiet Ascent

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lancaster the Perfect Fit for England's Quiet Ascent

Article excerpt

Byline: UNION TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster is quietly putting paid to the myth nice guys finish last.

Left holding the baby after the demise of Martin Johnson's self-destructive regime, the affable Cumbrian has proved to be exactly the kind of under-stated figurehead for which the English game has been crying out.

Steadying the ship after a tumultuous 2011 World Cup left the RFU in full panic mode, the caretaker became the permanent new broom and is sweeping away the doubters with every passing game.

For those of us who have known him for a while it comes as no great surprise, and even the national media's gaze has proven incapable of forcing the nationalteam boss into a flap.

World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, seemingly bitter at being overlooked for a top job at the RFU, keeps lobbing unsubtle verbal hand-grenades into the camp in his national newspaper column. A true patriot, to the last.

Not that Lancaster is remotely flustered by such peripheral distractions.

"There is no pleasing some people, is there?" he said with a smile when asked about Woodward's latest barb in the wake of last weekend's game against Australia - a 20-13 victory, at that.

"We were pleased to get the win, there is no doubt about it. We recognise there is another step we can take in terms of the quality of the performance."

Taking the learning points while not ignoring the positives, it is hard to see how anyone can pick fault with the level-headed approach of the former Leeds Carnegie boss.

Not a natural publicist nor a household name in the manner of some of his predecessors, Lancaster's regime has brought the media inside the tent.

Courteous, open and philosophical in the face of inevitable criticism, he has even invited the press into team meetings and analysis sessions on occasion, albeit it on a strictly off-the-record basis. …

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