Stuart Lancaster sidesteps Rob Andrew ‘dictator’ claims

Stuart Lancaster refused to engage in a public spat with Rob Andrew, after his former RFU colleague heaped blame on Lancaster for England’s disastrous 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The former director of rugby hit out at the Leinster senior coach in his book, The Game of My Life: battling for England in the professional era, saying Lancaster became ‘dictatorial’ in the build up to the 2015 tournament and criticised the decision to pick rugby league convert Sam Burgess in midfield.

Andrew said Lancaster lost focus in the build up to the tournament and says he wished former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith had come on board to ‘save Lancaster from himself’.

England lost to Australia and Wales in the pool stage and failed to make it to the knockout stages, and Lancaster was sacked soon after.

“Everybody’s entitled to an opinion, Rob has given his and that’s his right, I guess,” Lancaster said.

“You learn a lot about yourself as a national team coach and you learn a lot about other people as well. We’ll leave it at that.

“I’ve got my thoughts [on Sam Burgess] and I’ll keep them to myself for the time being.

“What I want to try and do is pass on what I’ve learnt as a coach to other coaches, to teachers, to people in leadership positions and also more importantly to people in Ireland and to Leinster.

“I don’t think it will do anyone any good by going back all over that now.

“It’s not for me to comment on whether it’s the wrong thing to do for Rob to say what he said.

“I was certainly unaware it was coming up, but people are motivated in different ways.”

Lancaster has rebuilt his reputation since his shock move to Leinster 13 months ago, helping the province to the Champions Cup semi-final in his first season.

The former England coach has a more hands on role at Leinster than he did at England, leaving the media, logistic and other challenges to Leo Cullen.

He says he has no extra motivation in proving the likes of Andrew wrong, and maintains a pragmatic approach to the criticism that followed the 2015 tournament.

“I have to say I didn’t see this coming, I wasn’t aware that anything was being written, but I guess it’s part and parcel of being a national coach, you know, when you take the responsibility you’re accountable when it doesn’t go well,” he said.

“I think I did that from the start and I will still continue to do that. Every coach’s aim is to deliver trophies to the team and my aim is not motivated by proving people wrong or trying to change people’s perceptions.

“It’s trying to do the right thing on a daily basis, trying to do the right thing for Leinster, trying to improve the players, to improve the environment.

“As coaches, we have a lot of control but we don’t have the ultimate control as to whether you win.

“You want to empower your players to take responsibility for that and that’s what I’m trying to do at Leinster.

“I don’t think my motivation is any different to any other coach.”

Lancaster spent some time away from the game following the World Cup disappointment and says he’s become a better coach since.

“The down-time in between coaching England and coming to Leinster allows me to go and visit other environments, to visit other international coaches who have been through the sort of experiences that I’ve been through and learnt from them, you then package all of that together and you bring it to Leinster,” he said.

“I probably underestimated the development that I went through, not just coaching England but all of those years preceding that as well. Coaching England gives you a lot of experience.

“You go through good times, you have great wins and great moments. You go through tough times as well, you learn a lot about yourself and other people as well.”

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