Six Nations: England's Stuart Lancaster looking at the positives after heartache
Last Updated: 16/03/14 11:39am
England rugby head coach Stuart Lancaster is opting to stay positive despite narrowly missing out on the Six Nations crown to Ireland.
Chris Robshaw's men did their job in Rome in Saturday's opening game by romping home in Italy 52-11, but they needed help from France to beat Ireland in order to finish top.
Ireland fended off late pressure in Paris to bag a slender 22-20 win and the result was enough to deny England after they lost away to France earlier in the campaign.
"You've got to take the positives. It's obviously hugely disappointing to have lost it in in the matter in which we did," a reflective Lancaster told Sky Sports.
"We're definitely a step further on. We've had a great campaign really overall. A couple of bounces of the ball and we could sat here with a Grand Slam."
"Overall, seven tries in Italy, the experience that we've gained, the quality of the attack and how we've developed our game. The young players getting opportunities, which 18 months after a World Cup can only be a good thing for us."
Lancaster has lamented England's slow start at the Stade de France where they fell 16-0 down, although they showed great resolve to fight back only to suffer a 26-24 loss courtesy of Gael Fickou's score.
However, Lancaster has been delighted with the team's development throughout the tournament, stating that with a little bit more luck they could easily have been crowned champions.
"Not winning in France would have been the big one wouldn't it?" he continued on his Six Nations regrets.
"Going 16 points behind and then we played brilliant rugby to get ourselves back in the game and obviously that last try was a killer really but we truly believed we could still win the Championship and we gave it our all.
"We're definitely a step further on. We've had a great campaign really overall. A couple of bounces of the ball and we could sat here with a Grand Slam.
"Even to the end and scoring on our last play against Italy. You couldn't have asked for any more from the boys really.
"We're a young England team. We're getting better and we're definitely going in the right direction."
Lancaster came under fire over his use of substitutes against Italy, however, he feels the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Dave Attwood impressed off the bench in Rome.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion aren't they? I'll do what's right for the England team, for the players and for the group.
"I think the impact the guys made from the bench, Manu Tuilagi, Dave Attwood's line break, the two front rowers coming on and turning the scrum over, George Ford's show-and-go.
"I think we've got great players coming through. I think we should be focusing on the positives."