England caretaker coach in running for permanent job - RFU

England team
A 19-12 defeat by France spelled the end of England's World Cup campaign

England's caretaker coach could be appointed on a permanent basis if he impresses in the Six Nations.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has promised to name Martin Johnson's temporary successor before Christmas.

It was thought that whoever took charge would make way for the new man ahead of next summer's South Africa tour.

But RFU board member Ian Metcalfe said: "If they do a fantastic job they will be considered alongside the others who are interested."

Stuart Lancaster, the RFU's head of elite development and England Saxons coach, is regarded by many as the favourite to fill the interim post.

John Kirwan, who has coached Italy and Japan, is also believed to be in contention.

Northampton's Jim Mallinder has expressed an interest in the permanent role, while former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett has said he would take charge only after the Six Nations.

Other candidates include Jake White, who guided South Africa to 2007 World Cup glory, and former Australia boss Eddie Jones.

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RFU aims for head coach before SA tour

"We haven't said that whoever holds the job on an interim basis should not be entitled to be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis," said Metcalfe, who also chairs the RFU's Professional Game Board.

"It's the job of a lifetime in one sense - an opportunity to coach a team through the Six Nations and demonstrate their ability on the European stage."

in the wake of England's miserable World Cup campaign, which was dogged by controversy and ended in defeat by France in the quarter-finals.

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