Rugby - Lancaster handed powerful new position

Stuart Lancaster will have his mind focused solely on his primary role today when he names the England team to place Scotland in the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations.

PA Sport
Rugby - Lancaster handed powerful new position
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Stuart Lancaster, left, will name his England team to face Scotland on Thursday

But Lancaster will reveal the squad having last night been anointed as the head of the Rugby Football Union's new international performance department.

The powerful new position was created in a restructure of the RFU's professional rugby department and it places Lancaster in charge of the whole England hierarchy. In effect, Lancaster has become the RFU's first elite rugby director with the twin responsibilities of coaching the senior national team and overseeing everything below it.

The RFU will recruit a new head of player development to take hands-on charge of a structure that includes the England Saxons, age-group teams, sevens and women.

The successful candidate, from a net set to be spread wider than just the rugby world, that he or she will report into Lancaster.

This latest restructure was recommended by Peter Keen, the former UK Sport performance director, and Sir Ian McGeechan in a report commissioned in the wake of last year's Rugby World Cup debacle. Lancaster and Rob Andrew had a strong input into the review.

The full England remit has been carved out of Andrew's current responsibilities, leaving him clear to concentrate on his main task of renegotiating the RFU's new deal with Premiership Rugby.

"Stuart believes this is absolutely the right way to go. Elements of what we're talking about, he is doing anyway. He is very comfortable," said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie. "I don't see this as adding a burden of responsibility on Stuart - a time-consuming thing diverting him away from the senior England team."

The RFU board also backed a recommendation for a new rugby performance centre - akin to the Football Association's St George's Park complex - to be established by the end of 2016.

The England side to face Scotland is expected to include a debut for the Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees, in the place of the injured Leicester powerhouse Manu Tuilagi.

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