England Rugby
Lancaster in pole as RFU close on new coach
ESPNscrum Staff
March 27, 2012
Sir Clive Woodward OBE, Director of Sport for the British Olympic Association speaks during a IOC meetings, Westminster Bridge Park Plaza, London, England, April 6, 2011
Could Sir Clive Woodward be set for a shock return to the RFU? © Getty Images
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Teams: England

The Rugby Football Union is expected to name the new England head coach by the end of the week with Stuart Lancaster seemingly in pole position for the role.

The advisory panel tasked with identifying the next head coach met again on Monday night to discuss the candidacies of primary applicants Lancaster and Nick Mallett, both of whom were interviewed last Thursday. And some reports this morning suggest Sir Clive Woodward could be in line for a shock return to the RFU - potentially in a mentoring capacity.

Chief executive Ian Ritchie is set to make his final decision in the next 48 hours before putting it to the RFU board for endorsement. Contract negotiations would then follow with the proposed coaching team before an announcement is made.

The Daily Mail claims Lancaster is in such as strong position that he rejected RFU pressure to expand his preferred coaching team of Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, both of whom played central roles in helping England to second place in this year's Six Nations. The RFU are seemingly eager to add international experience to the team, such as the former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith, who is thought to be part of Mallett's proposed coaching set-up.

Meanwhile the Daily Express declares that Woodward is one of the candidates to take overall charge. However former England attack coach Brian Smith, recently appointed director of rugby at London Irish, believes Lancaster will land the job with the RFU possibly utilising the knowledge and experience of World Cup winning coach Woodward in an advisory role.

"Stuart's in a good position," Smith said. "He kenw all those young players, he's been responsible for the last four or five years for developing them. He's feeling that love you feel when you're in that honeymoon phase.

"I can see them leaving Stuart and the two coaches who are there with him and bringing in someone like Clive Woodward in to work with. The pressures of that job are enormous from the media point of view.

"You saw when things got a bit sticky for us at the World Cup, Johnno [former England manager Martin Johnson] was able to manage that kind of stuff - and there's not too many people in this country apart from the Prime Minister who could have handled it.

"You would think the new CEO would see Clive Woodward as a resource. It would make common sense to support that current coaching group with a mentor."

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