World Cup winner Ben Kay and former British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan will be among the five-man panel charged with deciding the future of England coach Stuart Lancaster after the Rugby Football Union confirmed the make-up of the group entrusted with reviewing the country's first ever pool stage exit from the showcase competition.
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie, Professional Game Board chairman Ian Metcalfe and England Rugby 2015 board member Ian Watmore complete the group which will debate preparations and performances before and during the tournament prior to make recommendations to Twickenham decision-makers.
Top of the agenda is expected to be the future of Lancaster who, despite having five years still to run on his contract, is under significant pressure after England became the first host nation of a Rugby World Cup to fail to qualify for the knockout stage. Defeats to Wales and Australia consigned England to a premature exit, the first time they have been unable to progress past the pool stage.
Kay and McGeechan are among the notable inclusions on the panel, whose findings, which will include garnering feedback from stakeholders such as the bosses at the English Premiership, will not be conveyed to the public. Kay was part of the victorious 2003 World Cup winning team and is now an esteemed pundit working for ITV, ESPN and BT Sport, while McGeechan – a former Scotland coach – has coached the Lions on four occasions including the victorious 1997 series win over South Africa.
"While the RFU will be focusing on continuing to deliver a fantastic tournament over the next two weeks, it is hugely disappointing not to have progressed through to the knockout stages," Ritchie said. "With that in mind, we have begun to review the senior team's campaign to ensure that we learn and improve from this experience in order to be consistently successful.
"There will be extensive input from players, coaches and management staff, as well as an external perspective gathered. The details of this feedback will remain confidential, with recommendations then made to the RFU Board."
Though McGeechan among others will be asked to rule over Lancaster's future, the 68-year-old has heeded caution over calls for the England coach to be removed from his position. Writing in The Daily Telegraph the day after the defeat to Australia, he said: "I would urge Ian Ritchie not to make any rash decisions.
"England have a strong coaching team in Lancaster, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree. I cannot see anything better out there which is readily available. You need time to develop a winning team and Lancaster has built a strong rapport with this squad. That relationship will be very important over the next 12 months. You do not throw it away lightly."