Much of the speculation this week centres around the appointment of the coach of the England rugby team, to take them forward to the next world cup. Every writer and ex-player has an opinion, many of which hail the current set up headed by Stuart Lancaster. It is hard not to feel the same and give him and his team full endorsement, but it is also important to see if there are better options out there. Nick Mallet has a good pedigree, along with some other British coaches.
So what is the best for England right now? Well, continuity is vital. To suddenly change the coaching staff now would undo a lot of very impressive work. Most importantly the standards of behaviour have had an about turn, with the players aware that indiscretions will be punished. Take the drink driving incident of Danny Care compared to that of Mike Tindall. Care was banned for the 6 Nations and Tindall was not reprimanded at all. Chalk and cheese. It was a bullish statement at the time but a stern one that sent out a strong message.
Secondly there seems to be some pride back in playing for the shirt. There was a catalogue of instances that gave the impression the players just did not care. That seems to have been restored by their defence and defiance in the face of adversity. To see players patting each other on the back, and backs congratulating forwards on their scrummaging is indicative of a team being as ONE. Andrew Farrell has in my opinion been crucial in motivating the players to believe in each other and the cause. I don't believe Saracens will let him leave their coaching staff without a fight. Assuming he goes back to Saracens would Lancaster thrive without him? I don't think so. Just like Sir Clive Woodward may not have been so successful without Andy Robinson.
The answer is for the RFU to simply buy Saracens out. There is enough money to do so. Most importantly they should pay Saracens handsomely and make it worth their while as it was they who have nurtured Andy Farrell and not the RFU.
But what the coaching team need moving forward is more expertise in many different areas. The first and most important is having a director of rugby who knows his stuff. Nick Mallet would be good but why not look at Clive Woodward again. He has the knowledge to assist Lancaster in developing the team and providing support off the pitch.
Woodward’s mantra was always about creating certainty and excellence off the pitch so that excellence could be attained on it. That is why the powers that be don't like him around, because he spends their money like it grows on trees and stops at nothing to being the best. He will bulldoze his way to create a centre of excellence with little regard for the blazers. That is what Lancaster needs and I fear if he does not have it he will become another reject after a run of losses.
Also there is a plethora of coaches that should be looked at to assist Lancaster. Mike Catt is a brilliant skills coach, well respected by many. Brian Smith is back with London Irish as Director of Rugby, so get Catty if he is available. I also believe that the very best fitness coaches need to be involved. I don't think the team were as fit as Wales or others which did not help with their ability to keep the ball. Wales used to be so unfit and have realised to compete at the highest level they need to be fitter.
There are many other layers of coaching that could be implemented. For example leadership coaching. It is all very well watching Chris Robshaw go about his business and give him a thumbs up for coping, but there needs to be another level of leadership endorsed.
Clive spent countless hours with the world cup team developing these skills with outside help. Matt Dawson and myself were constantly challenged about our decision making during games. The amount of leaders in the 2003 squad was incredible.
I am not advising to replicate the 2003 team through this new bunch as the game has moved on and there are now different strengths and weaknesses in the team. But there were so many factors that brought about our success that have been lost over the last 8 years with poor coaching. Winning is a process that evolves that has stalled for too long. The next world cup is at home so let's turn the richest rugby nation back into the best rugby nation on the pitch.
Kyran Bracken was speaking in association with www.gameplansolutions.co.uk