Leinster prepares to lose to Lancaster as the top 14 sides of the race swoop down

Leinster are preparing for a major turmoil with Stuart Lancaster close to agreeing to a move to French club Racing 92 next summer.

Lancaster has been Leinster’s head coach since 2016 and has made a huge impact on Irish rugby by coaching the county’s players, many of whom also star in the Irish national team.

However, Lancaster is now believed to be close to finalizing a deal with Racing. As reported by Midi Olympique in France earlier this week, the Top 14 team made a strong move to secure Lancaster services from next season onwards, and talks have made “significant progress”.

The English man’s current Leinster deal expires in June 2023, and while there was speculation the county would move early to extend this contract, it now appears that Lancaster may be tempted to move away from Ireland.

Rugby’s current race director, Laurent Travers, is set to take on a new senior role at the club next summer, meaning the Parisians have been searching for his successor.

The 52-year-old would be a major pick at any club given his track record. Despite being sacked by the Russian Football Association after England were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup at home in the pool stages, Lancaster did an excellent job in the years leading up to that tournament.

He cemented his reputation at Leinster, with the county players giving consistently glowing reports about Lancaster’s work on the training ground and in the classroom with his focus on leadership.

It is clear that Leinster will be very disappointed if Lancaster’s exit at the end of the season is confirmed.

The situation also creates an immediate challenge for new CEO Shane Nolan, who replaced long-serving Mick Dawson after retiring at the end of last season.

There has been a lot of change within the Leinster coaching ranks lately, with assistants Felipe Contebomi and Denis Lemy leaving for Argentina and Monster, respectively, at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. They were joined by former back row Leinster Sean O’Brien and Kiwi attack specialist Andrew Goodman in their stead.

Goodman could be considered in a more influential role if Lancaster’s exit is confirmed. Having previously been Tasman’s coach and assistant coach with the Crusaders in his native New Zealand, he has built a solid reputation.

Leinster legend Johnny Sexton is nearing retirement and has indicated in the past his interest in coaching. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him involved in some trait even after hanging up his shoes.

There will also be great interest in any role with Leinster from outside the province, given their continued success at URC. One of the disappointing things Lancaster may feel is that the county won only one European title during his tenure despite the strength of their team, but there is another season coming to improve that record.

Of course, Leo Colin is still the head coach of Leinster, even if his role involves less training on the pitch with Lancaster. The Englishman currently manages Leinster’s attack and defense, as well as influencing many other areas of their preparation.

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Colin had a policy of signing short-term deals with Leinster and his contract is also currently set to expire in the summer of 2023. The county is hoping to stick with the 44-year-old.

It remains to be seen if Colin will take on more coaching responsibility if he leaves Lancaster, or if he will formally move to the role of rugby manager when a new contract is signed.

Either way, losing Lancaster would undoubtedly be a huge blow to Leinster.

Colin is scheduled to speak to the media at 1pm this afternoon before tomorrow’s URC match with Benetton and there is no doubt that much of the focus will be on the future of Lancaster.

– Originally Posted on 09.42