London - England coach Stuart Lancaster's record six-year contract extension will be reviewed after next year's Rugby World Cup on home soil, Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie confirmed on Wednesday.
The RFU surprised many observers by awarding Lancaster the longest-ever contract given to an England coach, one that doesn't just include the 2015 World Cup but also the 2019 edition in Japan.
One question that arose immediately after Wednesday's announcement by the RFU was what would the governing body do if England failed to qualify for the knockout stages of next year's World Cup from a pool also including Australia and Wales?
Ritchie moved to reject suggestions the RFU had boxed themselves in by revealing that a performance review would be held after next year's World Cup in England.
"We will all, including the coaches, sit down and review how things go during the duration of the contracts," said Ritchie. "They will be on a review capability, so we will look at that.
"Yes there will of course be a review at various stages, of which an obvious one will be after the World Cup.
"But we are looking on the positive side of it, we believe this is a fantastic coaching team, we want to keep them together as a team and a group.
"That's why we've taken these steps.
"We believe the commitment is clear and we want to give certainty and stability to the longer-term development of the England team."Ireland infamously handed coach Eddie O'Sullivan a four-year contract extension shortly before the 2007 World Cup only for him to leave the job a matter of months later.
Ritchie added he was aware of the potential pitfalls but believed they were outweighed by the benefits of giving Lancaster and his coaching staff a longer-term deal.
"Of course you think about those sorts of things (O'Sullivan's contract extension), and a lot of this is a matter of balance," said Ritchie.
"We've tried to find that balance between the short-term nature of success and the medium to long-term planning that we're trying to put in place.
"This is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
"You've always got to look long-term, and when you're thinking about medium to long-term planning of course there are some elements of risk.
"But I don't think there's a risk in this situation."
England will be looking to win the World Cup for only the second time in their history after a team captained by Johnson and coached by Clive Woodward triumphed in Australia in 2003.
And Ritchie believes ending any lingering uncertainty over Lancaster's position can only benefit the side.
"It's also very helpful in terms of the short-term, when everyone needs to be 110 per cent focused on what we need to do in the World Cup."
Under Lancaster, England have a 60 percent winning record, having played 30, won 18, lost 11 and drawn one Test since he took charge after the Red Rose brigade's much-criticised 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
South Africa, one of four teams heading to Twickenham in November are the only team England have played but not beaten under Lancaster.
But whether England can dethrone reigning world champions New Zealand, another November opponent, next year remains an open question.
"If we don't win it, we'll sit down and review it all," said Ritchie.
"We're working on the assumption and reasonable expectation that we will have a successful World Cup, whatever the definition of that is.
"It's an easy one if you win; anything less than that, well, we'll review it at the time."