Bill says take heat off Lancaster

Former Lancashire and Fylde ace Bill Beaumont, who is RFU chairman
Former Lancashire and Fylde ace Bill Beaumont, who is RFU chairman
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Bill Beaumont has moved to ease the pressure on England head coach Stuart Lancaster ahead of the World Cup.

The former Fylde ace and England captain and current chairman of the Rugby Football Union believes Lancaster has turned the side around and given them an identity.

Lancaster took over a turbulent 2011 World Cup which was marred by off-field indiscipline and unconvincing displays, which ended with a quarter final defeat to France.

He leads them into autumn’s home tournament with questions remaining following the failure to win a Six Nations crown so far during his tenure and a lack of momentum, but Beaumont brushed off any criticism towards Lancaster.

“People will look at the Six Nations this year and be disappointed we didn’t win but that does not deter from the fact we are going in the right direction,” he said.

“He is contracted until 2020 and like everyone in England we want him to succeed. It’s up to us to give him as many tools as we can he can succeed with.

“I think he’s done a tremendous job when you think four years ago we were in a difficult situation. I think he has given the team a real identity.

“You need a bit of luck and everyone is right behind him. If he can play his strongest hand we have a chance.”

England face Fiji, Wales, Australia and Uruguay in Pool A in September and October after a warm-up game against Ireland and a double header against France.

And Beaumont, speaking as the Webb Ellis Cup continued its 100-day tour of the country at St George’s Park, warned England cannot expect a smooth passage but thinks they will be prepared.

He said: “The biggest danger is your first game, Fiji. I remember being in France in 2007 when France thought they would breeze past Argentina in the opening game and Argentina beat them.

“Stuart will be concentrating on one game, ‘Let’s beat Fiji’.

“To get out of the pool I think it’s going to be hard, but it’ll also be hard for the other teams.

“We can’t ignore Fiji, we can’t think it’ll be a three-horse race between England, Wales and Australia. Fiji will have a say.

“I would like to think we could get out of the pool and if we can do that there’s no reason we can’t go all the way.

“When the draw was made no one thought it would be a breeze, I don’t think anyone in the England camp are expecting anything other than tough games.

“Once you are out of the pool and into knockout 
rugby we normally do quite well.”