Rugby Union

Tom Wood wants Stuart Lancaster and England coaches to 'come out fighting'

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Tom Wood has urged Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team to "come out fighting" as they brace themselves for the inquest into England's worst performance at a World Cup.

The Rugby Football Union will on Monday begin its review into the failure to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time - a moment being described as the darkest hour in Red Rose history.

At the top of the agenda will be assessing the performance of Lancaster and his lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt and deciding whether they have a future in light of the inability to progress from the pool.

"Absolutely, we're behind Stuart," Wood said. "Personally - and I think I can speak for most of the lads - I want Stuart and the coaches to come out fighting.

"They've done themselves proud in terms of the preparation and their work-rate. Stuart's work-rate in particular is unbelievable. To a man, we've given our all.

"The coaches will have learned an awful lot during this campaign and over the past three and a half years.

"At the top they are going to come under an awful lot of pressure to ring the changes, but I can't speak highly enough of Stuart as a bloke and as a coach. I back him."

The position of Chris Robshaw is also under close scrutiny after England seemed to lack leadership in key moments of the pivotal matches against Wales and Australia, although the blame cannot be laid at the feet of the captain alone.

It was Robshaw who opted for an attacking line-out from a late penalty against Wales instead of directing Owen Farrell to go for goal. Had Farrell landed a difficult three points, England would have secured a draw which would ultimately have nudged them into the quarter-finals.

Robshaw edged Wood for the captaincy at the start of Lancaster's reign, but the Northampton flanker still supports his long-standing friend.

"He's a strong character is Chris and he's been here before. He knows he's got the backing of the group," Wood said.

"Whatever you say about him as a player and whoever else you talk about, I've always backed Chris because he's a good honest person who fronts up and gives his best for the team, day in, day out.

"We've all put an arm around him and he's come out fighting. Other players might not have been able to stand that tall and front up in the way he has, so credit to him."

When asked if he would like to be captain were England to demote Robshaw, Wood said: "I'd try and do what's right for the team.

"If I was asked to do it for the benefit of the team then I'd consider it very carefully and probably front up."

Wood wants the findings of the RFU's review, which will be overseen by chief executive Ian Ritchie, to be kept private.

"We haven't finalised anything yet but the feeling is that the leadership group and senior players will collect feedback from the rest of the group, probably in clubs and players groups," he said.

"Saracens and Saints will conduct their own brainstorm and feedback sessions in order to give some concise feedback and a group opinion rather than have 31 voices coming from everywhere that can be a lot of white noise.

"Some disgruntled players who didn't play as much as others - you've got to filter out some of the nonsense and the white noise and the individual frustrations to make sure we get a group appraisal."

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