Challenges facing the New England head coach

With the search for the new England head coach now underway. There are a couple of things that the prospective candidate will have to sort out if they get the position.

Described on the website as a series of dedicated individuals working hard to make England rugby and the game in this country as successful as possible. It consists of CEO Ian Ritchie, a man with no previous Rugby administration experience, Rob Andrew the Professional Rugby Director, Bill Beaumont the Chairman of the RFU and Jason Leonard the President of the RFU, among other non-rugby personnel. Just reading through the positions; CEO, chairman and president, I’m already confused as to who does what.

The RFU is a potential mine field for anyone coming into the head coach position and trying to understand the remit of their role. At the minute it appears that the head coach is in charge of the England team and is the voice of the union and the clubs (who operate as individual business entities outside of RFU control). There needs to be a much clearer structure where the head coach can then work with an independent committee to determine how to best implement ideas for making the England team successful again. I believe the old adage of ‘Keep Things Simple Stupid’ needs to be applied to make this work in a much better way.

Player Unrest
It seems like all is not well among the players. Recently Mike Brown, Harlequins and England full back, came out saying he ‘doeasn’t trust’ certain individuals within the set up.

Sometimes things niggle at people and when aren’t addressed at the time can turn into something much bigger than is anticipated. It looks like the new head coach is going to have to hold clear the air talks with the squad to try and get them all pulling in the same direction again.

Overseas players
I think this issue will rumble on indefinitely until something is put in place to allow selection of players plying their trade abroad, or till Steffon Armitage comes back to play in England. Either way this topic isn’t going away anytime soon.

The Centres
England have been struggling for a centre partnership since Will Greenwood and Mike Tindall in 2004, that’s 11 years! Many players have been tried and dumped over the years, does anyone remember Ayoola Erinle? Fortunately the future is looking the brightest it has been for a while with young players such as Henry Slade, Elliot Daly, Sam Hill, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Ollie Devoto, Sam James and Tom Stephenson all putting their best foot forwards.

Premiership Rugby
Unlike in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and now Argentina the premiership clubs are not under the control of their respective RFU. In England they exist as their own entities and are free to decide on how to play the game. With the threat of relegation each season this can lead to some dour rugby which is focused around drawing penalties out of the opposition and kicking the three points. This results in the basic skills of players not being as high as our Super 15 counterparts and makes the head coach position an up hill battle. Earlier this year the idea of a ring fenced premiership was floated. Perhaps it is time to revisit this and consider what it would really mean for England rugby.

All of these things amount to one serious challenge for the new head coach, but hopefully someone is appointed who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers and wants what is best for the England rugby team, as a successful national side leads to more people coming to watch and play the game in the future.


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