England should be taken away from RFU control - Simon Halliday

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
England captain Chris Robshaw
England crashed out of their own World Cup after a 33-13 defeat to Australia

Control of the England team should be removed from the Rugby Football Union, says former centre Simon Halliday.

The ex-RFU board member has called for "serious structural change" to improve the fortunes of the the national side.

The RFU, led by chief executive Ian Ritchie, is conducting a review into England's early World Cup exit.

But Halliday, who won 23 international caps and is European Professional Club Rugby chairman, wants a separate "elite" team to manage England.

"No-one wants to see England at 8th or 9th in the world," Halliday told BBC Radio 5 live. "We all want to get back up to the top of the tree, so let's make the changes."

Stuart Lancaster's side became the first ever sole hosts to fail to reach the knock-out stages of a World Cup.

Simon Halliday
Simon Halliday was part of the England side that lost to Australia in the 1991 World Cup final

The panel selected to review England's performance has been criticised, with Ritchie instrumental in appointing Lancaster.

Halliday believes the RFU should concentrate on administering the game for the "massive majority" who play for fun, leaving the "assets" in the "shop window" to be run by an independent structure "united by a common purpose".

"You have to have everyone in the room who has any say in how the players are used, making sure selection is right, and making sure we have the right coaches," he added.

"I believe there are successful structures like that all around the world, and they happen to have won World Cups and got into finals. So why not work from them."

Bernard Foley scores for Australia despite the attentions of England captain Chris Robshaw
Bernard Foley's attacking flair tore England apart in Australia's group stage triumph which knocked the hosts out

Unlike in countries like Australia and New Zealand, where the governing bodies also have influence over the club game, in England the clubs exist completely independently of the governing body.

And while accepting that won't change, Halliday is adamant the two entities can work closer together for the good of the English game.

"The club structure will not be broken here, it is incredibly powerful," he said. "The key is to bring it together with the union, and make certain that we use all of our resource. We need to get closer together.

"We've got a four-year window now to consider all this, and there are some great people who want to help.

"The RFU are the guardians of our sport. They owe it to all of us, the paying public - whoever you happen to be - if you love your rugby you want to see things work out."

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