English RFU says sorry

2011-11-30 23:08

London - Rugby Football Union (RFU) acting chief executive Stephen Brown apologised on Wednesday for England's dismal World Cup display as Rob Andrew was removed from direct involvement with the senior team.

England lost in the quarter-finals to France in New Zealand after a campaign marred by embarrassing off-field incidents, including veteran centre Mike Tindall's alcohol-fuelled night out in Queenstown.

"The most important thing is to make an apology to everyone involved in rugby for the performance of the World Cup and the surrounding events," Brown told a press conference at Twickenham.

"We've let ourselves down as a sport and as a team. It's important we recognise that and take some action going forward.

"Standards were below what we expect, we had a number of off-pitch disciplinary matters and that attracted a lot of negative coverage which we regret.

"We need to fix this going forward and make sure we are in a better place going into 2015 (when England host the World Cup) and the report is aimed to do that."

Brown was speaking following an RFU management board meeting that considered recommendations from a series of post World Cup reviews -- all leaked last week to The Times newspaper.

Alongside him was Ian Metcalfe, chairman of the advisory Professional Game Board, who added: "We also apologise to the players themselves and coaches for the leaks that happened, they are inexcusable.

"But we must not get so wrapped up in finding the leaker to ignore the real issues we have in England rugby.

"It's not all broken, there are lots of good things out there and working together we can improve on that."

Team manager Martin Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup winning coach, resigned before The Times published the leaks.

However, RFU elite rugby director Andrew has repeatedly refused to quit.

Andrew's current position has been cited as an impediment to the appoint of a world-class, proven, coach as a long-term successor to Johnson with the likes of former South Africa and Italy boss Nick Mallett making it clear they would want to report directly to the chief executive and the board.

And Metcalfe revealed on Wednesday that former England flyhalf Andrew was to be stripped of any role with the senior Test team.

Instead Andrew's new role of professional rugby director means he will have responsibility for other representative teams and the relationship with Premiership Rugby.

Metcalfe added England will not rush the appointment of a new head coach, with the aim to have a permanent successor to Johnson in place by the time of next year's South Africa tour.

An interim coach will be in charge for England's defence of their Six Nations title, due to start in February, but no appointment has yet been made.

Metcalfe added the RFU hoped to have a new chief executive in place by the turn of the year and that the successful candidate would have a role in selecting the new head coach.