England have refused to rule out an attempt to bring former boss Stuart Lancaster back into their coaching set-up.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will in January launch the search for a coach to join England’s backroom staff after the 2019 World Cup.
England bosses want head coach Eddie Jones to mentor his eventual successor, with that candidate yet to be finalised.
The RFU will convene a panel in the new year to intensify that search, and interim chief executive Nigel Melville has refused to dismiss the merits of re-employing Lancaster, who lost his head-coaching role after the 2015 World Cup.
When asked if current Leinster coach – and potential Ireland target – Lancaster would be a candidate for the future England backroom vacancy, Melville replied: “I’m not sure, I haven’t spoken to Stuart so I’m not sure if it’s the path that he sees for himself.
“I’ll be meeting with everyone who is a potential target for us and I’ll make the list based on that.
“I don’t know what other people might be thinking but all our top English coaches will be contacted.”
“Going into a World Cup year we couldn’t be in a better place."December 4, 2018
Asked if the RFU would have any reservations reverting to Lancaster, Melville continued: “No, not a problem, why would it would be a problem?
“I’ll talk to anyone who has the requisite talent to do the job for us.
“It will be a pretty good search. We have been monitoring everyone for the last 18 months.
“We have got a spreadsheet of everything and everyone, all around, different levels, assistant coaches, kicking coaches, and we have English coaches overseas as well. Quite a few in France. In Scotland. All sorts.
“And a lot of overseas coaches in the Premiership too. It is quite a broad thing.”
Lancaster was sacked after the 2015 World Cup where England became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history for failing to progress beyond the group stages.
Lancaster’s assistant Andy Farrell also lost his job after the 2015 tournament, but has since rebuilt his coaching career with Ireland.
The former dual-code international will succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after the 2019 World Cup, and that leaves Lancaster firmly in the running to join Ireland’s backroom staff.
Lancaster helped Leinster claim the Pro14 and Champions Cup double last season, as the former PE teacher reasserted his coaching credentials.
Melville insisted England would consider coaches from all backgrounds, whether English or foreign, based in the Premiership or overseas.
“We want the best person, don’t we?” said Melville.
“We want the best person for the job. I am English, this is England, of course it would be great to have an English coach.
“But we have got to have the best coach for the job.”
Melville scotched any notion of Premiership promotion and relegation being scrapped this season, after several English clubs were understood to have pushed for fast-tracked ring-fencing.
But the interim RFU chief did concede that ring-fencing the top division may eventually come to pass.
Asked if promotion and relegation could be halted for this season, Melville replied: “I think that’s called wishful thinking isn’t it?
“Suddenly people want something to happen now. Well, no, that’s not how it works. Nothing is going to change as regards this season.
“I wonder why this week we’re talking about promotion and relegation?
“You look at the table and you can see why, with six or seven teams separated by four points.
“I sometimes get a bit uncomfortable with the team going down coming up every year, because the integrity of the competition starts to be impacted.
“People start to say ‘what is the point?’ You have Ealing at the moment who do have the resources and are challenging at the top (of the Championship) and others aspire to do that, whether that’s Cornish Pirates or Yorkshire Carnegie or anybody else.
“That opportunity is still there, but the gap is so big and it seems to be getting wider. If it continues to get wider, should we have a review of that and have a closer look at that? Potentially.”- Press Association