Alec Swann - Lancaster’s purge was a necessity

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It was an extreme way of doing things but Stalin, in his wisdom, believed that a purge every now and then was a good thing.

Slaughtering thousands of your countrymen may not be everyone’s optimum way of accomplishing such a feat, but there you go.

This week, Stuart Lancaster, in his first act as England’s interim rugby coach, was to have a purge of his own.

Out have gone Mike Tindall, Mark Cueto, Nick Easter, Shontayne Hape and Riki Flutey, Matt Banahan and Delon Armitage.

Add to these the recently retired trio of Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Thompson and you have the makings of something akin to a revolution.

And you would be hard pushed to argue that it wasn’t necessary.

The recent World Cup was an accident waiting to happen and brought everything sharply into focus.

Poor selection, no apparent style of play or gameplan, all coming on the back of a string, apart from the odd exception, of underwhelming performances in the lead up to the tournament.

Something had to give and that came firstly in the shape of Martin Johnson – how did he get the job in the first place? – leaving his post and secondly with Lancaster’s clearing of the decks and the ushering in of a new era.

Now all that is needed is time for Lancaster to show what he is capable of. A fresh side should buy him some breathing space as nothing will happen overnight but water will be tread if he is not given a honeymoon period.

Step one has been taken, now those in charge should be left alone as they attempt to take the next one.