Former Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas has said he warned the Twickenham hierarchy that Stuart Lancaster was the wrong man to lead England into the World Cup.
Calling it a "tragedy" that Sir Clive Woodward is not pulling the strings in the international set-up, Thomas claims Lancaster's lack of top-level experience before rising through the England ranks meant he would be found lacking on the biggest stages.
Lancaster's career as England head coach is under close scrutiny and could be brought to an early end after the host team's failure to reach the World Cup knock-out stages.
And Thomas, who left the RFU in 2011, after the last World Cup and before Lancaster's appointment, believes the RFU chose a man who was bound to be found wanting.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "Before I left, I warned the RFU board that Stuart was not the right man for the job.
"He is a lovely, pleasant and diligent man and he has done his very best. But he had not played or coached the game at the top level and does not have the technical experience or expertise to cut it at international level.
"Look at the coaches in the ?quarter-finals of the World Cup - Warren Gatland, Michael Cheika, Steve Hansen and so on - they are proven at the very highest level and they have an X-factor. The brutal truth is that Stuart does not have that at the moment. We have gone nowhere during the last four years and that is a terrible indictment."
Thomas says England missed a trick by not involving Woodward, the 2003 World Cup-winning coach, in their plans.
He said: "The tragedy is that Clive should be managing English rugby. If he was, I am convinced we wouldn't be in the terrible mess we are now. We would be contending to win the World Cup, not packing our bags."
Assessing what might have awaited England had they won a home World Cup, Thomas recalled the 2003 celebrations and said: " It would have been on a different scale to that this time and we blew it."
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