Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster says England are on the up despite losing to Wales
Last Updated: March 17, 2013 12:19pm
Head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted England's inexperience cost them the Six Nations title but the long term outlook remained rosy.
Cheered on by a hostile home crowd at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, Wales stormed to a record 30-3 triumph to retain the crown and inflict more misery on the visitors, who have now lost six Grand Slam deciders since 1990.
The English were out-fought and out-thought in a gruelling and pulsating contest and with a World Cup two years away, Sir Clive Woodward, in charge for the 2003 winning campaign, had a warning for the team's set-up.
"International rugby is a brutal thing. To me, coaching England is about your next game," the 57-year-old told the BBC.
"You are picking a team to win on Saturday. It is not about too much development. He has to take that on board now."
Despite his team's failure on Welsh soil, Lancaster remained upbeat and said: "It is difficult but when I look back and try and put some perspective on it - the four wins and the New Zealand game and building as a team - there is still an upward curve.
"We are still developing experience in a young team. What told in the game was a few things and one of them was experience. We will be better in the long run.
"The players are hugely disappointed. They feel they have let themselves down, that they have let the country down and it is a difficult place to be.
"I try and pull them back to the perspective that we had fewer than 300 caps going into a game of this magnitude and how much we have developed in 14 months.
"No team goes unbeaten in international sport. The difficult thing for us is we don't meet again until November. It is a long time to wait. I do believe the journey we are on and the plan we have is the right one.
"We are still developing experience in a young team. What told in the game was a few things and one of them was experience. We will be better in the long run."
"We had a lot of over 30-year-olds at the 2011 World Cup and we needed to develop new players. We have had more ups than downs. This is a down but we will hold our nerve and stick with the plan because I believe it will come good."
With the summer tour in Argentina on the horizon, there will be plenty to mull over for Lancaster and his support team.
"We are all in it together," he added. "It is not just about the players. I need to look at what we did during the week and how we prepared for the game and everything else.
"I will always look at myself first. It will be tough but I knew when I put my hand up for the job that there would be tough times along the way. I had some in South Africa (on the summer tour) and in the autumn internationals and you look inside yourself to see what you can do better."
With 10 England players competing in the Millennium for the first time on Saturday, Lancaster maintained that, while building a side for 2015, he does not have a "youth policy".
Woodward backed the head coach to learn all the right lessons from their Welsh demolition, adding: "I have been through it. I had a lot of success with England but we had some big setbacks.
"I am certainly glass half full when it comes to Stuart Lancaster. He has done a great job. He took over at a difficult time for English rugby and he has got us into a good position.
"It was a poor game, we got smashed by Wales, but he will learn from that. He knows he has the players and he has a long time to the World Cup still. He has a tough 12 months coming up and this was an eye opener.
"The rest of the world will look at that and say 'the bubble has been burst a little bit, we see who they are and what we have to do to beat them'. He has to look in the mirror and say 'what is the next stage?'.
"He has done a great job but he has to learn his lessons."