Stuart Lancaster calls time on England tenure

Stuart Lancaster has stepped down as England coach "by mutual consent", it has been confirmed by the Rugby Football Union.

Lancaster's position had been under scrutiny following England's disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign, that saw them make a pool stage exit on home soil.

The pressure on the former Leeds coach only intensified once Sam Burgess -- who Lancaster picked for his World Cup squad ahead of Luther Burrell -- made his decision to return to rugby league.

An RFU statement released on Wednesday morning said: "The Rugby Football Union can confirm that Stuart Lancaster has, by mutual consent, stepped down as England head coach."

Lancaster leaves the job almost four years after taking control, having led England to four second-place finishes in the Six Nations.

However, he will be remembered for the 2015 World Cup campaign in which his side became the first host nation to crash out before the quarterfinals.

A review into the team's performance is due to be delivered to the RFU on Nov. 17, but the coach has ultimately decided to go before then.

"I am obviously extremely saddened to finish the way we did in this World Cup and to step down from the role. As I have always said, I ultimately accept and take responsibility for the team's performance and we have not delivered the results we all hoped for during this tournament," Lancaster said.

"However, I am immensely proud of the development of this team and I know that there is an incredibly strong foundation for them to progress to great things in the future.

"We have played some excellent rugby and it was always going to be tough to get the right level of experience into them in time for 2015.

"It is a young group of players with the huge majority available for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, where I believe their recent experience will make them genuine contenders.

"I would like to thank the players, coaches, management and everyone at the RFU for their commitment, support and hard work in my time as head coach. But most of all, I would like to thank the England rugby fans, who have always backed us and given us amazing support."

Although Lancaster's departure was only confirmed on Wednesday, several coaches -- including Eddie Jones, Warren Gatland and Michael Cheika -- have already been linked with the England job. The RFU will now "immediately" begin the recruitment process for Lancaster's successor.

Ian Ritchie, RFU CEO added: "'The Rugby World Cup was hugely disappointing for everyone associated with the England team and the subsequent review into the team's performance was always intended to be extremely comprehensive, which it has been.

"Stuart has been fully involved and has given feedback as well as the other coaches, players, management and a wide variety of people from around the game. Following the review, Stuart and I met, where we agreed that he should step down as head coach. This was subsequently ratified by the RFU Board.

"On behalf of all fans of the England team and the RFU I would like to express our gratitude to Stuart for all he has done for England Rugby since taking the role in 2012."