World Cup: Future not so bright for Lancaster as Ritchie insists on changes

DOWN AND OUT: England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

DOWN AND OUT: England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

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Change is inevitable after England slumped to their worst performance in World Cup history, admits Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie.

A 33-13 rout by Australia – a record losing margin to the Wallabies at Twickenham – condemned England to becoming the first host nation to exit the tournament at the group phase. The future of head coach Stuart Lancaster and his assistants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt are in grave doubt and the inquest will begin once the World Cup is over, although Ritchie refuses to outline a timescale or format for the review.

England's players stand dejected after losing to Australia at Twickenham on Saturday night.

England's players stand dejected after losing to Australia at Twickenham on Saturday night.

The position of Ritchie himself is equally precarious having appointed Lancaster and taken the bold step 12 months ago of awarding him and his lieutenants new contracts to run until 2020 despite the failure to win any silverware of note.

When asked if there would be change, Ritchie said: “Absolutely.

“But we need to be clear this is not a time for knee-jerk reaction. It’s a time for calm, rational reflection about what we can learn and how we move forward.”

A shaken Lancaster, who at one stage during yesterday’s briefing seemed close to tears, is adamant he will remain at the helm during a week of tortuous preparation ahead of the final group game against Uruguay.

“All things are being considered, but I won’t be walking away for now,” said Lancaster.

“We’ve got a game to play this Saturday. It’s not the time now to make a decision like that.”

Report and reaction: Page 7.

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