Rugby World Cup: Lancaster and Ritchie react to dismal England’s early exit

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie refused to press the panic button despite England’s disastrous 33-13 defeat to Australia dumping Stuart Lancaster’s men of the World Cup last night at Twickenham.​ 

The head coach’s position is under intense pressure after England became the first host nation ever to fail to qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition.

Defeat to Australia on Saturday night followed last week’s humiliating loss to Wales at Twickenham – but Ritchie has called for calm amid shouts for Lancaster’s immediate departure.

“This is not a time for needless kneejerk reactions, this is not a time to rush into anything, it’s a time for calm and rational thinking – we need to have some considered reflection on what we can learn, how we can move forward and what do we need to do to improve,” said Ritchie.

“We will only look at all those things in a calm, rational and considered manner.

“We all feel a sense of disappointment at what’s happened and we owe it to ourselves to do it but we must look at it a calm manner.  There’s no denying the impact of what has happened.”

Lancaster refused to point the finger of blame at his players but did suggest a lack of experience in the England camp had been a huge contributing factor in their World Cup elimination.

Following England’s poor showing at the 2011 World Cup, Lancaster culled a number of 30-plus aged players and introduced a collection of youngsters into his squad.

On Saturday at Twickenham, Australia boasted 750 caps in their starting XV compared to England’s 450 and Lancaster is convinced this lack of experience proved the difference.  

“It was always going to be a tough pool, when you saw the draw you always knew one good side was going to get eliminated,” said Lancaster.

“I thought there were still two good teams playing yesterday, especially 20-13 – I don’t think we have become a bad team; there are still a lot of very good young players in the squad.

“The foundations are still very strong but clearly we weren’t ready to win and get out of this pool.

“I’m not going to hide behind anything and I must say credit to Wales and Australia and apologies to everyone else – it’s frustrating.

“I think the Wales game, being 22-12 up after an hour or so and then not to come away with a win really put us under pressure.

“I thought the Australia game came down to small margins and there were big consequences.  We got back to 20-13, we had momentum with us and there was still just 65 minutes gone in the game.

“We gave Australia an easy line-out and the sin-binning resulted from that.

“Australia had 750 caps in their starting XV and we had 450 – we can go through why that’s happened but we’d need to go back all the way to 2011.

“There were a lot of players over 30 in that team and we were always going to have to go through some sort of evolution.

“I don’t think it was the tournament, I think it comes down to collective experience – Australia edged it that regards and I think it probably showed on the day.”

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