London - The Rugby Football Union denied on
onday they had approached Australia coach Michael Cheika about the possibility
of succeeding England boss Stuart Lancaster.
Australian press reports said RFU president
Jason Leonard had made contact with Cheika during the Wallabies' World Cup
campaign in England.
However, a spokesman for the RFU, England's
national governing body, said on Monday: "There has been no contact."
Cheika, contracted to the Australian Rugby
Union (ARU) until 2017, is now one of the highest profile names in
international rugby coaching after guiding the Wallabies to the World Cup final
just a year after taking charge.
The 48-year-old Australian also boasts an
impressive club coaching record, having won the European Cup with Irish
province Leinster and the southern hemisphere Super Rugby title with the Waratahs.
A day after the World Cup final, which
Australia lost 34-17 to defending champions New Zealand at Twickenham on
October 31, Cheika was named World Rugby's coach of the year.
Former Leeds coach Lancaster has a rather
more modest CV but what has really put his position in jeopardy is that, under
him, England became the first World Cup host nation to be eliminated from the
tournament in the pool phase following defeats by Wales and Australia.
The RFU set-up a five-man panel to review
England's dismal World Cup campaign and Twickenham chiefs are due to receive
their report on November 17.
One of the key decisions facing the RFU is
whether to stick with Lancaster, whose England contract runs beyond the 2019
World Cup in Japan, or bring in someone else.
According to The Australian newspaper,
former England international Leonard - a World Cup-winning prop back in 2003 -
made contact with Cheika, who indicated after this year's final that he wanted
to carry on his work with the Wallabies.
England have never had an overseas coach
and, with Lancaster not having resigned, there is no vacancy at the present
But that hasn't stopped a flood of
speculation about who might replace the Englishman.
In addition to Cheika, the likes of Wales
boss Warren Gatland and Ireland's Joe Schmidt - both New Zealanders - as well
as South Africa's Nick Mallett have all been linked with the England job.
So too has Eddie Jones, the Australian who
was in charge of the Wallabies when England beat them in the 2003 final, after
his impressive feat in guiding Japan to three wins at this year's edition,
including a shock victory over rugby giants South Africa - the biggest World
Cup upset of them all.
Cheika will be back in England later this
month to coach a star-studded Barbarians side, mainly made up of players from
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, in the invitational side's 125th
anniversary fixtures against Gloucester at Kingsholm on November 17 and
Argentina at Twickenham four days later.