England have refused to rule out an attempt to bring former chief Stuart Lancaster back into their coaching set-up.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will next month launch the search for a coach to join England’s backroom staff after the 2019 World Cup.
England chiefs want head coach Eddie Jones to mentor his eventual successor, with that candidate yet to be finalised.
The RFU will convene a panel in the New Year to intensify that search, and interim chief executive Nigel Melville has refused to dismiss the merits of re-employing former Leeds Tykes director of rugby Lancaster, who lost his head-coaching role after the 2015 World Cup.
When asked if current Leinster coach – and potential Ireland target – Lancaster would be a candidate for the future England backroom vacancy, former Otley and Wakefield scrum-half Melville replied: “I’m not sure, I haven’t spoken to Stuart so I’m not sure if it’s the path that he sees for himself.
“I’ll be meeting with everyone who is a potential target for us and I’ll make the list based on that.
I haven’t spoken to Stuart so I’m not sure if it’s the path that he sees for himself. I’ll be meeting with everyone who is a potential target for us and I’ll make the list based on that.Nigel Melville on the possibility of Stuart Lancaster returning to the England fold
“I don’t know what other people might be thinking but all our top English coaches will be contacted.”
Asked if the RFU would have any reservations reverting to Lancaster, Leeds-born Melville continued: “No, not a problem, why would it would be a problem?
“I’ll talk to anyone who has the requisite talent to do the job for us. It will be a pretty good search. We have been monitoring everyone for the last 18 months.
“We have got a spreadsheet of everything and everyone, all around, different levels, assistant coaches, kicking coaches, and we have English coaches overseas as well. Quite a few in France. In Scotland. All sorts.
“And a lot of overseas coaches in the Premiership, too. It is quite a broad thing.”
Lancaster was sacked after the 2015 World Cup where England became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history for failing to progress beyond the group stages.
Lancaster’s assistant, Andy Farrell, also lost his job after the 2015 tournament, but has since rebuilt his coaching career with Ireland.
The former dual-code international will succeed Joe Schmidt as Ireland head coach after the 2019 World Cup, and that leaves Lancaster firmly in the running to join Ireland’s backroom staff.
Lancaster helped Leinster claim the Pro14 and Champions Cup double last season, as the former PE teacher reasserted his coaching credentials.
Melville insisted England would consider coaches from all backgrounds, whether English or foreign, based in the Premiership or overseas.
“We want the best person, don’t we?” said Melville.
“We want the best person for the job. I am English, this is England, of course it would be great to have an English coach.
“But we have got to have the best coach for the job.”
Melville scotched any notion of Premiership promotion and relegation being scrapped this season, after several English clubs were understood to have pushed for fast-tracked ring-fencing.
But the interim Rugby Football Union chief did concede that ring-fencing the top division may eventually come to pass.