Headhunters to help RFU choose next England coach

By Dan RoanBBC sports news correspondent
Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster was named interim coach in December

The Rugby Football Union has taken the unusual step of using a City headhunting firm to help choose the next England head coach.

Odgers Berndtson began the recruitment process last week, and will advise a five-man RFU selection panel.

The RFU wants to announce the permanent successor to Martin Johnson by the end of the Six Nations at the latest.

Interim coach Stuart Lancaster could apply but a decision is likely before England's Six Nations campaign is over.

The job is also being advertised, with 31 January the closing date for applications.

Given the levels of rugby expertise within the game that the RFU could consult, the decision to employ Odgers will be controversial.

"We want the process to be open and transparent, and they will give us support and an objective view," said RFU acting chief executive Stephen Brown.

"Odgers will provide objectivity, advice during the assessment stages, and some practical, administrative help in what is a worldwide search."

The headhunters will work with a five-man selection panel including incoming chief executive Ian Ritchie, professional rugby director Rob Andrew and representatives of Premiership Rugby.

They will recommend an appointment to the RFU board, which will make the final decision.

Brown admitted that having the recruitment process going on at the same time as the Six Nations presented Lancaster with "a challenge", but said he had "made a fantastic impression".

"If he chooses to apply he'll be given every consideration," added Brown. "It would be very positive for the RFU."

The RFU is aiming to have a new permanent head coach named no later than 17 March, when England play their final Six Nations match against Ireland.

But if the chosen successor to Johnson is not available until the start of next season, Lancaster could be asked to extend his interim tenure for the three-Test tour of South Africa in June.

The RFU has also confirmed that Ritchie will take up his post earlier than expected, on 27 February.

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