English rugby set for overhaul?

2011-11-30 15:27
England Rugby (File)

London - English rugby chiefs are set to announce on Wednesday which of the recommendations made by several highly critical reviews into England's shambolic World Cup campaign they are about to implement.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) may be the sport's wealthiest national governing body but they are currently without a chief executive and England without a national team manager after months of turmoil at Twickenham.

Separate reports into England's World Cup debacle, compiled by the RFU, the Rugby Players' Association and Premiership clubs, were leaked to The Times newspaper last week.

They painted a picture of a disunited, money-grabbing squad led by weak management unable to impose discipline, after several players caused England unwanted headlines in New Zealand with a series of embarrassing and sometimes alcohol-fuelled incidents.

The RFU's acting chief executive, Stephen Brown, and Ian Metcalfe, chairman of the Professional Game Board advisory committee, are due to hold a news conference at Twickenham at 16:30GMT on Wednesday following a RFU board meeting that will consider the World Cup reviews.

It is not expected that a successor to Martin Johnson as manager will be named.

But Wednesday's meeting could clarify the role of Rob Andrew, the RFU's director of elite rugby, who has come in for intense criticism since the departure of Johnson.

Andrew, having originally rounded on his critics for not understanding his job, struck a more conciliatory note last week.

"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," he said.

"I should have supported Martin more," added Andrew, who reiterated he would not resign.

Nick Mallett, one of the candidates to succeed Johnson on a long-term basis, has questioned the worth of a director of rugby role.

Indeed, former South Africa and Italy coach Mallett's desire to become England head coach depends on him having a direct reporting line to the new RFU chief executive without anyone else getting in the way.

Johnson may have captained England to the 2003 World Cup but he had no coaching or management experience when he was appointed - in part by Andrew - three years ago.

The former lock, who failed to guide England to their minimum target of a World Cup semi-final spot in New Zealand - they lost in the quarter-finals to France - resigned before the reports were leaked.

Stuart Lancaster, currently coach of the reserve England Saxons, and England scrum coach Graham Rowntree - one of the few people named in the leaked reports to emerge with any credit - could form a caretaker duo for the defence of England's Six Nations title, which starts in February.

This year has seen the RFU lose a chief executive in John Steele following the fall-out from a botched attempt to create a new performance director role many thought would go to 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward.

Then RFU chairman Martyn Thomas was forced to stand down in the ensuing furore.

Thomas also quit as acting RFU chief executive on Tuesday and was replaced by chief financial officer Brown.

One of Thomas's last acts at Twickenham was to reduce from £25 000 ($39 000) to £15 000 a fine imposed upon Mike Tindall as a result of his drunken night out in Queenstown and restore the veteran centre to the squad following original punishments imposed by Andrew.

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