By Justin Palmer
Stuart Lancaster paid the price for host nation England’s World Cup failure when he resigned on Wednesday following a Rugby Football Union (RFU) review.
An RFU statement said Lancaster, in charge since April 2012 and under contract until 2020, had “stepped down by mutual consent”.
England, who went into the tournament with huge expectations of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for the first since 2003, failed to reach the knockout phase after defeats at Twickenham by Wales and Australia.
England let a 10-point lead slip to lose 28-25 against Wales and, needing to beat Australia to avoid an embarrassing early elimination, were crushed 33-13 by the Wallabies to become the first England side to go out of a World Cup in the pool stage.
Lancaster, who was in charge for 46 matches with a record of 28 wins, 17 losses and one draw, said he was “saddened” to leave the job.
“I ultimately accept and take responsibility for the team’s performance and we have not delivered the results we all hoped for during this tournament,” he said.
Lancaster had been heavily criticised in the wake of England’s flop, notably for selecting inexperienced rugby league convert Sam Burgess who last week turned his back on the code after one season.
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said the search had begun for Lancaster’s successor.
“The Rugby World Cup was hugely disappointing for everyone associated with the England team and the subsequent review into the team’s performance was always intended to be extremely comprehensive, which it has been,” he said.
“Stuart has been fully involved and has given feedback, as well as the other coaches, players, management and a wide variety of people from around the game.
“Following the review, Stuart and I met, where we agreed that he should step down as head coach. This was subsequently ratified by the RFU Board.”