Andy Robinson: The way it was handled does English rugby no good at all

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The Independent Online

When I look at the decision that was made this week by the Rugby Football Union management board, and I look at what happened to Brian Ashton, the way it was handled was disappointing. I have been saddened by what I have read these last few weeks, since the Ireland game. It does English rugby no good to see the way it has been played out.

Everyone who is part of the management board, and the team and the coaching team, has got to speak with one voice. And the decisions that are made, once they are made, have got to be part of a process that is operated professionally. It is not about scoring points. It is about making sure that when you deliver the message it is a collective delivery that is given.

It is always disappointing when decisions like this get handled in the media. The management board have got to look at their processes – and they know who they are. How many of them have spoken to the media about decisions that were being made and leaked them?

That is one of the disappointing things. There were tough decisions that had to be made, and were made, but they should not have been handled in the press, because people were leaking things. They should have been dealt with within the boardroom. It is one of the key issues with any international team, or any team, from boardroom through to players to supporters – that the management of that team have all got to be collective, be together. And that means being tight in terms of what information is given out. Everybody comes across poorly because of the leakages to the press.

When I look back at things that happened for myself as England head coach then I can see where comments were made in the press and how things got fuelled and driven because of that. It has been a big eye-opener for me, reflecting on my own tenure, to see how things have been handled. I do not want to make any comment about the decision that has been made now, but the way it was handled was disappointing.

In terms of Martin Johnson being appointed as team manager, he is a quality person; he is outstanding. He has got to be able to deal with these people now and make sure that they understand what he wants, and make sure there is a collective voice. He has got to surround himself with some good coaches, who will take England forward. It does not matter that he has no formal coaching qualifications. The one thing he has got is rugby experience. He understands how to handle people. It is a different role than he had as a captain obviously, because whatever he needed to do then he could do on the pitch. As manager, he has got to empower players to be able to perform on the pitch and take responsibility.

Johnno understands that. And I believe he will be able to deliver that.

Andy Robinson was Brian Ashton's predecessor as England coach and was sacked by the RFU in 2006.

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