Stuart Lancaster thinking only of the present and not future plans
Leinster coach linked with jobs in England as well as with Andy Farrell at Ireland
Stuart Lancaster has said he is happy at Leinster amid rumours that he may leave. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Stuart Lancaster possesses a healthy disdain for rumour-mongering especially when it comes to being linked with coaching positions, coloured by his experiences. Speculation and conjecture materialise as faithfully as coaching vacancies arise.
Leinster’s senior coach has seen his name bandied regularly in the media, most recently with regards to the head coach’s position at Bath when Todd Blackadder moves on next summer but also a return to the England set-up, based on comments from acting CEO of the English Rugby Union Nigel Melville, where Lancaster was head coach for four years up to and including the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Lancaster has also been touted for a role in Andy Farrell’s new Ireland regime, one that will commence when Joe Schmidt calls time on his tenure as Irish head coach following next year’s global competition.
Farrell was defence coach during Lancaster’s time with England and before that with the England Saxons so the linear link stands up and out. Or it would if there was any substance to it as present but there isn’t. They haven’t spoken about the prospect of hooking up. Lancaster is in discussion with Leinster on extending his time with the province.
He explained: “Obviously there’s a situation that I’m out of contract at the end of this year but I’m certainly not going ahead trying to plan the next five years of my career. I’m much more exercised in doing a really good job with Leinster, coaching as best as I can, and Leinster being successful. “Leinster have been brilliant in giving me the opportunity and it wasn’t that long ago that (my) name wasn’t linked to any job. The one thing that I can say is that I am very happy at Leinster. I have said that consistently. I have not been going round sending my CV out to anyone. Just to clarify I have not had anyone ringing me. It is speculation.
“I enjoy coaching at Leinster, I enjoy working with the players and I enjoy when the internationals are away working with the younger lads. The commute (from the family home in Cumbria) is doable. It’s not ideal, no job is, you have to move your family wherever. You have to commute somewhere.
“That’s the way it is at the moment. I have not had any phone calls from anyone and I have not phoned anyone. People put two and two together and make five.”
One thing he did clarify was his belief that Farrell was the correct choice to succeed Schmidt. “I think he’s the right man for the job. There was never any doubt in my mind that he should be the next head coach if Joe should decide to leave and Ireland made that decision.
“He sat for four years as assistant coach to me, four years as assistant coach to Joe and he would have learned a huge amount in that time and he’s got his opportunity now over the course of the next 12 months to decide how he wants to shape not just his coaching team but his philosophy, the environment, everything that goes with being an international coach.
“And he’s probably ready for that step; he’s waited patiently for his opportunity. The reality is that he’s got until January 2020 to decide, hasn’t he? There’s still the Six Nations and the small matter of a World Cup to go with Joe in charge. Andy will have to time to shape and decide what he wants to do over the course of the next six to 12 months.
“So my relationship with him has always been good, he lives about 10 minutes away and we’ve spoke consistently since I’ve been at Leinster, we’ve spoke consistently when I left England and I’ll catch him again at some point soon, I’m sure.”
There are more pressing concerns starting with Leinster’s Champions Cup clash with Bath at the Aviva stadium on Saturday (5.30) as the Irish province look to rectify shortcomings in performance terms from their 17-10 win over the English club at the Recreation Ground last Saturday.
Lancaster explained: “Overall we lost too many collisions and that had a knock-on effect, certainly in the first half. I thought we were much better in the second half. They’ve got a seriously big side, pack. They ran hard on the ball. We were slow to get off the line defensively and it gave them the advantage.
“(The) yards after contact, they definitely won that battle in the game. So there is definitely work for us to do in that area. As a team we need to be better defensively.”