Stuart Lancaster’s hopes of a swift return to top-flight coaching have been dealt a blow after the Harlequins’ contingent of England players recommended he should not take over from Conor O’Shea as director of rugby.
The former England coach, sacked after a poor World Cup, wants a senior coaching role at a Premiership club and O’Shea’s recent announcement that he will be leaving Quins appeared to offer a tailor-made opportunity.
But The Mail on Sunday has learned that a group of senior England stars — believed to have included former England captain Chris Robshaw, full-back Mike Brown, scrum-half Danny Care and prop Joe Marler — met chief executive David Ellis to express their reservations about his lack of hands-on coaching experience.
Lancaster, who remains a popular figure among his former charges and is widely-respected in professional rugby for his organisational skills, had only one year of Premiership coaching experience at Leeds Tykes before being appointed England coach and delegated the majority of technical work to his deputies Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree.
‘Stuart is a top bloke but does not have enough hands-on coaching experience to take on a club like Quins,’ said a source.