How Many RFU Panellists Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?


It’s now almost a month since England were kicked out of their own World Cup by Wales and Australia. That’s four weeks since England were humiliated in their own backyard in a tournament they might have won. Yet somehow, incredibly, we still don’t know whether Stuart Lancaster will keep his job. It’s absurd.

Why oh why has it taken so long to make a decision? It’s not rocket science. Lancaster had four long years to get things right. His team gradually got worse not better. The same problems – a lack of identity, inconsistency of selection and tactical naivety – dogged the side like psoriasis. And when the pressure was on, Lancaster lost his nerve and made boneheaded selections and formulaic substitutions that showed a worrying inability to read the game.

The RFU review panel can only come to one sensible decision. And it should have taken them five seconds not days or weeks. Lancaster must go. Any idiot knows that.

Yet I sense, deep in my bones, that every attempt is being made to preserve his position. Look at the composition of the review panel: Ian Ritchie (the man who inexplicably gave Lancaster a large contract extension not long ago) Ian Watmore, Sir Ian McGeechan (one of those who recommended Lancaster in the first place), Ian Metcalfe and Ben Kay (the former player and pundit close to one of Lancaster’s most audible cheerleaders, Lewis Moody). It’s hardly the most impartial panel in the world.

The initial feeling within the group will be one of embarrassment. They’ll be tempted to give their man another crack of the whip in the vain hope he’ll turn things around – anything to make their decision to appoint him in the first place look a little less farcical.

Many England supporters don’t understand why the RFU need a review panel anyway. Can’t someone just make a decision? All this procrastination, presented as ‘procedure’, is nonsense. Yes a review into the structure of the game should take place, but surely this could be a separate issue to Lancaster’s future? What English rugby needs is less dithering and more direction. At the moment we’re in a state of limbo. Lancaster needs to be put out of his misery.

If you look back into the past, it was similar dithering that earned Lancaster the job in the first place. The RFU rightly decided to part ways with Martin Johnson in 2011, but took so long to find a successor that a caretaker needed to be installed for the Six Nations – even thought they had almost four months to fill the void. I can’t recall the FA, or even the ECB, ever taking so long to find a new head coach. Why do the wheels turn so slowly at the RFU?

So now we return to the question raised in the headline of this article. How many review panellists does it take to change a light bulb? I’m not sure to be honest, but I know how many it should take: one. Knowing the RFU however, it would probably take five. And it would take them at least a month.

James Morgan


  1. So now we return to the question raised in the headline of this article. How many review panellists does it take to change a light bulb…

    Well, if the panel selectees have a clear vested interest in keeping us all in the dark…

  2. I’m ok with “a bit of time” to make the decision.

    The 3 reasons for this are:
    1) No knee jerk football style sack and hope for the best, or back SL and regret it.
    2) If SL is to go then as you say James we need a replacement soon to pick up the pieces. Canvassing the right candidate is important.
    3) Let the RWC finish – as hosts let’s respect our guests and not have a crazy side show to deflect from the main event.

    Personally, I feel SL has to go. Selection and tactics are where it went wrong. These lay squarely in SL’s shoulders. Having a defence based game, with too many players that focus on power, not guile and athleticism was wrong. The rest of world rugby, well the 2 finalists have moved away from this.

    We need to reach out to some of the Southern Hemisphere coaches, perhaps Eddie Jones, and some fresher coaches closer to how the game is played in the Southern Hemisphere. We have truly world class players, Ford, Watdon, Joseph etc. they need the shackles of prescriptive play removed for us to kick on.

    The next few years will be critical for our Japan 2019 chances.

    • I agree mate. I think it was important not to make any knee jerk decisions, and to respect the other teams playing in the tournament, but I think a month + is too long to settle whether Lancaster is staying. From what I read, a decision still isn’t imminent. It’s not really fair to keep him hanging either.

      I totally agree re: having some Southern Hemisphere input into coaching and selection. But it might feel odd if an Aussie gets the job. Although o have to say ive already got used to the excellent Trevor Bayliss.

      • It is a shame to say, but I would rather the right person over the right nationality.

        I did smile at Steve Hansen’s comment about never being able to coach against New Zealand – I like that attitude.

        Nobody has mentioned John Mitchell. He was well respected when he was part of SCW’s coaching squad.

        I just can’t see any credible English coach. Not one has a European/Heineken cup. There are good, but not great coaches, Mallinder, Ford, Diamond, Baxter and dare I mention Ryan who I could see being assistant/specialist coaches.

        It also needs to be someone who will not be an RFU “yes man”.

        • I agree re: the English coaches. Mallinder has the most experience but doesn’t convince 100%. I think Ryan is the best of the English candidates but the wider public won’t know about the good work he’s done at Worcester. I’d also hate to lose him. Fortunately he’s probably burned his bridges with the RFU after criticising them on Sky after England’s exit. Something along the lines of “Sure, we could appoint another coach, but who will be doing the appointing? We have to get the right men in charge at the RFU before we act”.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Last thing we need is to sack SL, and then not be able to replace him before the 6 Nations. One hopes they are now sounding out coaches on the move post WC.

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