Stuart Lancaster’s transition to Racing 92 may be completed at the end of this season by the end of this week. Leinster’s senior coach is set to hold a video meeting over the weekend with Paris club vice-chairman Jackie Lorenzetti and current head coach Laurent Travers, and French sources have told The Irish Times that Lancaster’s departure for Racing 92 now appears almost certain.
All that remains is for Lancaster and the racing series to agree on his exact role at Paris Club, with Travers set to take on a larger role as rugby manager or a managing role, as he still wants to retain some influence over the running of the team. Either way, Lancaster is in the process of switching to the new Racing coach or adopting a senior coach role similar to his current residency with Leinster in time for the 2023-24 season.
It’s even conceivable that Travers will become the new Racing 92 boss, freeing Lorenzetti to focus more on his diversified real estate and wine business. Final details have yet to be worked out, but assuming an agreement is reached over Lancaster’s hands-on coaching role, he is expected to end his association with Leinster after the 2022-23 season – his seventh with the county.
The 52-year-old former Leeds Tykes rugby manager and England coach was recruited by Leo Cullen and Leinster at the start of the 2016-17 season, and despite some ill-advised misgivings in the media, particularly in the UK, Lancaster have had a transformative effect. And really deep on the boycott.
Highlighting his commute from Leeds and enjoying a hands-on role in a county with a conveyor belt of young talent, players quickly dubbed Tuesday’s high-level, continuity-focused and inclusive Lancaster training sessions ‘Stuesdays’, who was a hugely influential and popular figure.
In the season preceding his entry, 2015-16, Leinster had won only one of six pool matches in the Champions Cup and were lost in the Pro 12 final by Connacht at Murrayfield, with a win-loss rate of 60 per cent averaging two attempts. for each game.
Although Leinster lost in the Champions Cup semi-finals, at Clermont Auvergne, and in Pro 12, at home to Scarletts, in Lancaster’s first campaign, those numbers rose to exactly 80 per cent and four attempts per game and they’ve been fairly repeated. Big, and sometimes improved, every season since.
In his second season with the District, Leinster completed the Champions Cup and Pro 14 double, defeating Racing 15-12 in the final in Bilbao, then in the following two weeks, beating Monster in the semi-finals and Crimson by 40-32 in the Pro 14 final at Aviva Stadium.
In each of his six seasons with Leinster, they have topped their collection of the Champions Cup and a Pro14/URC table or conference, maintaining win-loss rates and goal-attempt averages, while completing four Pro 14 titles in a row. Leinster has also consistently gotten close to this beloved fifth star and has been a bit lucky not to.
They lost an epic struggle in the 2019 Final at St James’ Park against Saracens and against the same opponents in a rearranged quarter-final behind closed doors at Aviva Stadium the following year; Their only defeat of the season as they won the Pro 14 Championship with 17 wins out of 17. The Sarcians were later found guilty of breaches of the Premier League salary cap which reduced their rank to the English Championship.
In the 2020-21 season, Leinster lost away to La Rochelle in the semi-finals and last season, having topped practically every metric in the Champions Cup when he scored 47 attempts in eight games averaging five attempts per game over the course of the season, losing what he was . Final “Away” in Marseille against La Rochelle in the last match of the match.
This was compounded by a 27-26 home URC semi-final loss to the Bulls, leaving Leinster without the trophy for the first time in Lancaster’s county time. This will undoubtedly add to Leinster’s hunger for titles this season, especially now given that the 2022-23 campaign will now likely be Lancaster’s last in the county, as will certainly be the case with captain Johnny Sexton.
After Argentina lured Felipe Kontibumi home as assistant coach to Pumas at the end of last season, aiming to succeed Michael Checa after next year’s World Cup, and lured Denis Lemy back to Monster, in some ways Leinster are paying the price for their success and innovative brand of attacking rugby.
It is true that every rugby team needs an injection of new voice and thinking. However, the departure of Contepomi, Leamy and now Lancaster, as well as Sexton, in a 12-month span – not to mention Mick Dawson’s November transfer after 21 years as Leinster CEO, and something of a fix last summer following the departure or retirement of nine players – it’s clear that The Leinster machine is having its toughest time since the arrival of Cheika in 2005, if not bigger.