Rugby

Martin Johnson officially quits

2011-11-16 18:18
Martin Johnson (File)

London - Martin Johnson has officially announced his resignation as manager of the England rugby team following a disappointing World Cup. campaign blighted by ill discipline.

"I won't be renewing my contract at the end of December," Johnson told a Twickenham news conference.

"It's not a decision I have come to quickly or easily, but I just think it's the right decision at this time," Johnson said.

England failed to reach their stated minimum objective of a semi-final spot in New Zealand, losing in the quarter-finals to France.

England's campaign was dogged by a series of off-field controversies which suggested Johnson had lost control of the squad.

"The off-field things during the World Cup didn't help. We gave people the opportuinity to report on us as they did. But it's not a kneejerk reaction," Johnson said.

After England had struggled to win their opening pool match, coming from behind to beat Argentina, Johnson - England's 2003 World Cup winning captain - allowed his players a night out in Queenstown, having said beforehand he would treat his squad like "adults".

But the night out became infamous for images of senior player Mike Tindall apparently drunk in a Queenstown nightclub.

Tindall, who is married to Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter Zara Phillips, was fined and dropped from the England squad for his conduct relating to the drunken night out.

Players were also fined for "inappropriate" remarks they made to a female member of hotel staff in Dunedin.

At the time, Johnson defended Tindall, who was forced to apologise for misleading the England management about his movements that night.

The off-field antics continued to hit the headlines even after England were knocked out of the tournament, as Manu Tuilagi was detained by police and fined by his England bosses for leaping off a ferry into the Auckland harbour.

Johnson was appointed to his high-profile post three-and-a-half years ago despite a lack of senior coaching or management experience, with then Rugby Football Union (RFU) chairman Martyn Thomas saying he had been brought in to "instill a discipline and direction in the squad".

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