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England needs to develop leaders, says rugby coach Lancaster

Rugby Union - England Training - Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey - 29/9/15 England head coach Stuart Lancaster during training Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic
Rugby Union - England Training - Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey - 29/9/15England head coach Stuart Lancaster during trainingAction Images via Reuters / Henry BrowneLivepic

(Reuters) - The Football Association (FA) should follow the lead of their country's rugby counterparts by equipping young players with leadership skills, according to former England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster.

England's lack of leadership in a young squad was one factor identified by critics for the humiliating round of 16 exit from the 2016 European Championship at the hands of Iceland last week.

Lancaster, who has been invited to join an FA advisory panel made up of coaches from other sports, is all too familiar with that kind of humiliation after his side exited its own World Cup at the pool stage last year.

He was, however, a driving force behind the England player development scheme which has produced the junior sides that have won the world under-20 championship three times in the last four years.

"A lot of the challenges in football are similar to the challenges in rugby," Lancaster told The Times.

"In rugby, England have been successful in creating a joined-up player development programme that sits between club and country."

Since the World Cup and the dismissal of Lancaster, England have been crowned Six Nations grand slam champions and secured a historic a 3-0 series sweep of Australia, with youngsters such as lock Maro Itoje rising to the occasion.

"Look at the England rugby team and how they have responded to the World Cup," Lancaster added.

"It is fantastic to see them show such great on field leadership. England rugby and the clubs have done a good job of getting the players to think more independently.

"My gut reaction from looking at football is that they have a talented group and the more ownership they can take of their own team, the more chance they have of being successful."

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru)

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