Rugby World Cup: Inexperience cost England - Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster
England coach Stuart Lancaster has a contract until 2020
World Cup Pool A: England v Uruguay
Venue: Etihad Stadium Date: Saturday 10 October
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on BBC website

England's inexperience was a factor in their early exit from the World Cup, says coach Stuart Lancaster.

England have the youngest squad in the competition with an average age of 26.2. Each player averages 25 caps, the second fewest in Pool A.

"It's hard to make selections when you have an inexperienced team and bringing more inexperience in," said Lancaster.

England face Uruguay at Etihad Stadium on Saturday in their dead-rubber final group game.

Although they beat Fiji in their opening match, defeats by Wales and Australia meant England became the first host nation in history not to progress beyond the group stages.

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Lancaster, who has overseen three successive second-place finishes in the Six Nations prior to the World Cup, admitted he was under pressure.

He said: "I understand that, not having nailed a Six Nations or a Grand Slam and certainly not having nailed this World Cup, there is no room for error.

"Obviously that will all be taken into consideration over the next few weeks."

He also stated that there is a "lifespan" to international coaching, explaining that as the players "tend to stay the same" so there is an "inevitability that the coach will have to change".

He added: "Because you only have a few games each year, it takes longer to build.

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"That's not me stating a case for me one way or another. I'll wait and see how I feel and how the RFU feel in the next couple of weeks."

Lancaster, who described the head coach's job as "brilliant but tough", said injuries and "discipline issues" also affected England's preparations for the tournament.

Centre Manu Tuilagi was suspended by England for assaulting police officers, while hooker Dylan Hartley was withdrawn from the squad after being banned for headbutting an opponent in a Premiership game for Northampton.

Lancaster also blamed the absence of several players on the tour of New Zealand in 2014, when "half the squad was in the Premiership final".

He added: "Some of our talented players - 18, 19, 20 years old at the time - learning their spurs and still not even in Premiership. It's hard to bring these players in in one go."

Lancaster said England will regret the 28-25 defeat by Wales in their second group game more than Saturday's 33-13 thumping by Australia, which ended their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

"Regret goes back to the Wales game," he said. "We didn't lose the game against Wales because of a lack of creativity.

"We lost because we gave away dumb penalties and Dan Biggar kicked them.

"I had one-to-ones with the boys yesterday. They said Australia were one of the best teams we played against in last four years. We were beaten by the best side."

I don't know if Lancaster wants it - Ford

Mike Ford
Ford has recently signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Bath

Bath coach Mike Ford, part of the coaching staff when England lost in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals, said it is "too late" for the Rugby Football Union to carry out a "root and branch" review.

"Everyone knows what has gone on," said Ford, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Lancaster.

He is unsure if Lancaster wants to remain in charge, telling BBC Sport: "The interview I saw after the game, he was a broken man.

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"The criticism and scrutiny you get as an England coach is very intense.

"You've got to want it 100% and love coaching 100% and be hard-skinned. It does certain things to you, and I don't know if he wants it."

Ford, 49, said he would turn down the England head coach's role if it was offered because he wants to "leave a legacy" at Bath.

He said: "I've got the best job in the world. I can't walk away because I've made commitments to players to stay with me for the next four years.

"I've not won anything yet. In four years' time, in 2019, who knows."

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