Alcohol being mankind’s best form of amplification as it is, very few people on the District Line from Richmond to Tower Hill at 10pm on Saturday had any option other than to overhear the following conversation.
Drunk 1: So do you think Lancaster should get the England job?
Drunk 2: Lancashire you mean? No definitely not. It needs a more experienced man.
Drunk 1: Yeh he might be a good coach, the players all seem to like him and his record’s not bad but you need other stuff, like dealing with the media.
What Drunk 1 wouldn’t have known was that an hour earlier Lancashire, sorry Lancaster, had the nation’s press, a pretty surly and impatient bunch even when the going’s good, eating out of his little Cumbrian hand.
Twenty minutes of questions about the permanent head coaching position were batted away one-by-one-by-one. And everyone was happy.
If these chaps had a pound for every time they’d heard ‘I don’t want to say anything that would compromise the integrity of the process’, they’d be able to afford a West Stand ticket.
Yet they couldn’t have been more satisfied, Lancaster is such a likeable, straightforward and honest bloke you’d let your sister elope with him. Not that he would, for the record. After ten overs of forward defences, not a single millimetre between bat and pad, one inquisitor even said: “I hope you get the job because then you can stop stonewalling us.” Guffaw, guffaw.
Stuart Lancaster has made quite an impression on the media. But not just because of his own unimpeachable integrity, even groups not known for their soft natures like former players and rival coaches, have nothing but good to say.
In just eight weeks the former Leeds man has built a unified side and evolving gameplan that are monuments to the RFU’s coaching manuals. There is an awful lot of the coach-speak and self-help guide to Lancaster but it seems to work.
He fashioned a side to survive at Murrayfield and thrive at Twickenham and whoever becomes Martin Johnson’s permanent successor could expect to do no more.
Which means making him that man would not only be a popular choice it would vindicate the millions that have been spent by the governing body on coach education.
It would also imbue a generation of coaches with hope that even without a big playing reputation the top job could one day be their’s. And that’s just another reason for giving it to Lancashire.