Rugby

England boss budges slightly

2011-11-24 21:31
Rob Andrew (File)

London - A "shattered" Rob Andrew, admitted on Thursday he should have given England manager Martin Johnson more support but insisted he too would not be resigning after a shambolic World Cup campaign.

England's campaign was dominated by off-field scandals and lacklustre on-field performances and they fell short of their stated goal of a semi-final spot with a quarter-final defeat by France.

Ultimately, this all led to Johnson's resignation last week and Thursday saw England attack coach Brian Smith quit as well, increasing the pressure on Andrew, elite performance director at the governing Rugby Football Union (RFU).

Leaked reports into England's performance at the World Cup in New Zealand published in the The Times newspaper on Wednesday painted a damning portrait of a divided squad obsessed with financial gain.

But the leaks also showed how the England management had lost control of a squad where the drinking exploits of players, including senior figures such as Mike Tindall, caused unwanted headlines.

Andrew, who helped appoint Johnson in 2008 despite the latter's lack of any previous coaching experience, told the BBC on Thursday: "The reality of my job is that I'm not the England team manager. I'm the elite rugby director and I run a big department.

"But I absolutely accept responsibility for what is going on here.

"The players have let themselves down, the coaches have maybe not done as good a job as they should, I've not done as good a job as I should have done.

"I should have supported Martin more.

"Does it mean I'm going to resign? No, I'm not. Does it mean it's all broken? No it doesn't."

"I'm absolutely shattered by what's going both on and off the field at the moment," Andrew added. "This is rock bottom, this is the lowest of the low."

Before the World Cup, the RFU saw chief executive John Steele forced out over a botched attempt to hire a new performance director.

Clive Woodward, England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach, was strongly linked with the still unfilled post and the ensuing furore after Steele's exit also led Martyn Thomas, who will step down as acting chief executive next month, to quit as RFU chairman.

Johnson's resignation means Andrew who has headed the performance department since 2006, has seen three England coaches come and ago - Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton are the other two - during his time at Twickenham.

Smith, whose contract expired in December, was slated in a report based upon anonymous interviews given by England squad members to the Rugby Players' Association.

One player accused Smith of copying moves at the World Cup from rugby minnows Romania.

"When you start copying Romanian moves, you know you are in trouble," the unnamed player said.

Earlier on Thursday, the RFU said there would be no verdict published on Tindall's appeal, due to be heard on Thursday, against a £25 000 ($38,769) fine for his boozy night out during the World Cup.

"The Mike Tindall hearing will take place away from Twickenham stadium and there will be no announcement today (Thursday)."

Tindall, 33, was fined and dropped from the England squad earlier this month after an RFU investigation into a players' night out in the New Zealand resort town of Queenstown during the World Cup.

Leaked security footage showed Tindall, recently married to Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter Zara Phillips, being kissed on the head by a woman but the point that really angered England was that the Gloucester back initially misled them about his movements on the night in question.

Several reports have suggested Stuart Lancaster, coach of the reserve team England Saxons, could succeed Johnson in a caretaker capacity.

That would give the RFU breathing space to find a new, permanent, coach with the defence of their Six Nations title just 10 weeks away.

Read more on:    rfu  |  rob andrew
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