England rugby bosses insisted on Sunday that there would be no “hasty reaction” over coach Stuart Lancaster’s future after the team’s World Cup exit at the hands of Australia.
The Wallabies’ convincing 33-13 victory at Twickenham on Saturday saw England become the first host nation to fail to reach the knockout stage of a World Cup.
That meant England’s tournament fate was decided in a mere 16 days which also included last week’s agonising 28-25 ‘Pool of Death’ loss to Wales.
England’s defeat by Australia has led to intense speculation over the future of Lancaster and his assistants, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell.
Questions have also been posed regarding Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of England’s governing Rugby Football Union.
Last year Ritchie authorised the controversial decision to extend Lancaster’s contract to 2020 — beyond the next World Cup in Japan — rather than wait to see how things worked out at this tournament.
But Ritchie, in a statement on the englandrugby.com website, said Sunday: “I would like to stress there will be no hasty reaction to England’s performance in this World Cup.”
England — backed by the world’s wealthiest union and with one of the largest playing bases in the global game — have finished second in all four of Lancaster’s Six Nations campaigns.
That led to a stinging rebuke from Ritchie, who earlier this year said: “I don’t think that is acceptable at all.
“We should be, as a country, winning more, in terms of whether it’s Grand Slams or Six Nations Championships.”
But he was in a far more conciliatory mood on Sunday, saying: “Both as RFU chief executive and as a lifetime supporter of the England team I speak for so many by saying how disappointed we are at the losses to Wales and Australia, where hopes were so high that we could achieve something special.
“I would like to stress, however, that there will be no hasty reaction to England’s performance in this Rugby World Cup.
“Lessons will be learnt from the results and they will be found in a calm, clear, rational and thorough manner in the fullness of time post tournament.
Meanwhile RFU chairman and ex-England captain Bill Beaumont said the players would be more disappointed than anyone else at being knocked out so soon from a World Cup on home soil.
“This is a group of young men who care deeply about representing their nation and their fans,” said Beaumont, the captain of the 1980 England side that won a Grand Slam in the then Five Nations.
“Nobody will be hurting more than they are and, while they will expect an inevitable reaction, knowing that the rugby family is still there for them will really matter.”