Rugby - England target top-two ranking

Stuart Lancaster has been formally set the challenge of leading England into the 2015 Rugby World Cup as one of the two top-ranked nations on the planet.

PA Sport
Rugby - England target top-two ranking

View photo

Stuart Lancaster has raised the bar and insists England must be more consistent

The target is contained within the Rugby Football Union's new five-year strategic plan, which was published on Friday and also includes the ambition of delivering "the most inspiring World Cup ever". In a departure from previous strategic plans, the RFU has not been specific in how many RBS 6 Nations championships and Grand Slams England are expected to win between now and 2017.

"I said from the outset that was our objective," Lancaster said. "We want to be in a position come the end of the New Zealand tour (in 2014) and going into the autumn internationals and the Six Nations in 2015 that we are up there with the best."

He added: "To do that we have to win consistently. It is a considerable challenge but if you want to be realistic about winning a big competition you have to have that consistency.

"It is a plan that encompasses the whole of the RFU and gets people to understand broadly what the objectives are, without becoming absolutely (specific) because that then becomes the barometer that I am measured against and there are other barometers for performance."

In his wider brief as the RFU's head of elite player development, Lancaster has recruited Joe Lydon to manage the England structure below the senior team.

The appointment of the former rugby league international is designed to ensure that England never have to rebuild a team from scratch, as they did under Lancaster following the 2011 World Cup.

Lydon, who spent two years as England attack coach between 2004 and 2006, will join from a similar role at the Welsh Rugby Union and report into Lancaster.

He will be in charge of player development through the whole England structure - the Saxons, age-grade teams, the Sevens programme and the national women's teams.

View comments (2)