Pressure mounts on Eng boss

2011-11-24 16:47

London - Rob Andrew faced renewed criticism as the fall-out from leaked and damning reports regarding England's shambolic World Cup campaign saw Britain's sports minister slam the team's management structure.

Andrew, who has headed England's governing Rugby Football Union elite performance department since 2006, came under fire last week following the resignation of team manager Martin Johnson - the third national team boss who had come and gone during his reign.

Many observers felt he should have offered Johnson, who'd never managed or coached a team before, more support.

Andrew's critics were riled by the former England flyhalf's refusal to accept any responsibility for a World Cup where the team fell short of their minimum semi-final target with a quarter-final loss to France.

Detailed contents from the reviews undertaken by the RFU, the Rugby Players' Association and the English Premiership clubs appeared on Wednesday across eight pages in The Times newspaper.

The reports contain quotes from Andrew and unnamed players which paint the picture of a disunited squad, riven by a lack of trust under the leadership of a management team out of their depth.

Some players are accused, both by Andrew and their team-mates, of being more concerned with their earning potential than their rugby.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson, while careful not to name Andrew specifically, said: "It is difficult not to conclude that the high performance system around the England team did not function in the way that it ought to.

"The most important thing for the RFU coming out of the disaster of the last World Cup is to seize the moment and use this as a time to reform and renew the performance structures around the England team.

"Their ambition should be to produce a high performance system for the England team that should be the envy of every other rugby union around the world.

"The RFU is incredibly well financed. They have now got to produce an England team that can not only compete at the next World Cup but can be a team the country can be proud of."

But for the time being some of the RFU's attention is being directed towards finding out who leaked the reports, with disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett aiming to deliver his findings within two weeks.

Furious RPA chief executive Damian Hopley described the leaking of the documents, which were never intended for publication, as an "absolute disgrace".

While all the player quotes remain unattributed, Hopley said: "I am absolutely devastated that our RPA members' trust has been so publicly betrayed.

"Players voluntarily took part in these interviews and gave their honest and frank assessment of England's Rugby World Cup campaign.

"The aim was to be completely open and transparent and players should be respected for refusing to shy away from some of the problems encountered.

"Players were critical of themselves, of the coaching team and of the RFU and its leadership.

"Our players were assured that their feedback would be totally confidential and yet no sooner has the report been sent to the (Professional Game) Board members than it appears in a national newspaper.

"If England wants to regain its status as a respected rugby nation, it is imperative that we stop the rot at the top of the game and show some much needed integrity. What example does this set to the game? It is an absolute disgrace."