Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Ian Ritchie has confirmed Stuart Lancaster will not be staying with the organisation in a different role after leaving his position as England chief by mutual consent on 11 November in the aftermath of a terrible World Cup showing. In a press conference shared with chairman Bill Beaumont, he also revealed previous international experience will be a key criteria when searching for the next head coach as well as insisting money is no object as they scour the globe for the right man.
"I think we all know elite sport is about fine margins, but it also about winning in a highly competitive environment," Ritchie, chair of the five-man panel appointed to lead a review into England's latest failure, said according to BBC Sport.
"We conducted a comprehensive review in the World Cup and the panel saw 29 people and I met another 30 and gave those views back to the panel. We have had extensive feedback from the players – all have had the chances to take part in the review and their feedback has been important. We have seen all of the coaching team and all of the Premiership's directors of rugby.
"At the conclusion of the panel, I spent several hours with Stuart and together we decided it was time for a new head coach. The decision was unanimously approved by the RFU board. We are looking for a coach of international experience."
Who could fill the role?
Such an expectation could appear to rule out the likes of Northampton's Jim Mallinder, Mike Ford of Bath and Exeter stalwart Rob Baxter, all three of whom are considered among the early frontrunners for the job and each possess varying degrees of international experience although not in a head coach position.
Former Springbok World Cup winner Jake White, Eddie Jones and Australia's Michael Cheika are three potential high-profile candidates that could suit, with the likes of Nick Mallett, Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland also linked at various times since England's humiliating Pool A exit was confirmed. Richie said: "We need the best possible coach. It's not a matter of financial consideration – we'll do it without any inhibition."
With Lancaster also set to step down as the RFU's head of international player development, Ritchie stressed the nationality of the new coach was not important and defended his own position while confirming that not every player was in favour of the change.
He added: "If you go back to the priority of recruiting a new head coach and it is very difficult for the new head coach to have the old head coach still in the organisation in some role. It will be a clean break for Stuart."
The unsavoury saga involving Sam Burgess, fast-tracked into England's World Cup squad over the likes of Luther Burrell to compete for a starting berth at centre despite having been switched to the back row by Bath, has certainly not reflected well on either Lancaster or the RFU in recent weeks.
Although the 26-year-old's decision to renege on the final two years of his club contract at Bath and switch codes for a second time in order to return to the South Sydney Rabbitohs has provoked a furious reaction from some quarters, Ritchie insists the whole episode does not reflect badly on his organisation.
He said: "I don't find the Sam Burgess situation in any way embarrassing. We had one of the world's leading league players wanting to come and play rugby union. We did not pay any money to bring him to England and there was no insistence on our part that he was picked.
"He was coached perfectly while with England and he has made his decision for factors that our outside our control. Everyone can have a view about whether it was right or wrong to select him, but there is no embarrassment on the RFU's part."