Former England Chief On The ‘Almighty Blunder’ Lancaster Made At 2015 Rugby World Cup
Former Rugby Football Union (RFU) director of professional rugby Rob Andrew, says ex-England boss Stuart Lancaster made an “almighty blunder” in selecting rugby league star Sam Burgess in his 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
England infamously excited the tournament at the group stages as hosts, after disappointing defeats to rivals Wales and Australia. Burgess, was fast-tracked into the set-up ahead of the tournament, with just a season of union under his belt.
Lancaster, who is now assistant coach at Leinster, says he would not have selected the South Sydney Rabbitohs star if he had known he would return to league within a few weeks of their exit.
In a section from his book, The Game of My Life: Battling for England in the Professional Era, published in the Telegraph, Andrew wrote:
“If there was a problem team-wise in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup, a selectorial Achilles’ heel, it was to be found in midfield.
“Try as he might, Stuart Lancaster could not settle on an optimum configuration. Which is where Sam Burgess came in, and where things went horribly wrong.
“I would not even begin to pin the blame for our embarrassing World Cup misfire on a single player, but the kerfuffle around the introduction of Burgess was undeniably the tipping point.
“To this day, I simply do not understand the thinking behind the fast-tracking of a player from international rugby league to international rugby union when so many of the things that had made him wildly successful in the 13-man game were of questionable relevance in the 15-man version.
“It was an almighty risk to select him in a World Cup squad on such extremely limited and highly questionable evidence and it proved to be an almighty blunder.
“Why did Stuart do it? He alone knows the truth of the matter. But all head coaches are control freaks in their own ways, especially around the matches and tournaments they know will define them, and Stuart became pretty dictatorial in the way he ran the show in 2015.”
Andrew also questioned the overall selection policy and said the World Cup exit was a “slow-motion car crash” following a build-up which lacked clarity and focus.